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Deal reached on zoning

By Kevin Wiatrowski
Published: December 27, 2009 Updated: March 24, 2013 at 12:05 AM
A settlement between Pasco County and the owners of land along State Road 54 will let development on the property move forward while preserving wildlife habitat and the route for a future extension of Tower Road.The settlement ended two years of negotiations between Pasco officials and the members of the Behnke family, which owns 532 acres on the north side of S.R. 54 between the Suncoast Parkway and Gunn Highway.County officials rezoned the property for residential development in late 2007. They required the owners to preserve an 1,100-foot strip through the property for wildlife and another strip along the northern edge for the future extension of Tower Road southwest from U.S. 41.The Behnkes objected to the restrictions and sued the county under a state law aimed at resolving land disputes. A special magistrate helped negotiation a resolution to the conflict.That resolution, which commissioners formally adopted this month, keeps the wildlife corridor and the Tower Road right of way intact. But it changes the property from all residential to a mix of residential, retail and commercial property.