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BOCC VOTES 7-0 TO DELAY CONSIDERATION OF
TAYLOR MORRISON FINAL CONSTRUCTION PLAT
Trial Date: NOVEMBER 13-15, 2023
Your voices have been heard by the BOCC. At today’s Land Use Meeting the concerns expressed about the Taylor Morrison Patterson Project were echoed by the Commissioners from the dais. The uncertainty of the legal outcome for this development as well as the many permit violations were mentioned prior to the unanimous vote to delay consideration of the final plat until after the trial.
You can watch a replay of the vote below.
Please email the BOCC to tell them THANK YOU
During this morning’s Land Use Meeting, the County Commission took up the matter of accepting the final plat for the Taylor Morrison project along Patterson Road. The matter was initially placed on the Consent Agenda, a typical practice for a plat acceptance.
However, due to all of the problems associated with this builder, Commissioner Wostal and myself removed the item from the Consent Agenda for discussion.
Commissioner Wostal sought clarification that the issue under consideration did not include aspects relating to compensation for the installation of oversized wastewater pipelines buried in the right-of-way. It did not.
I reminded the Board that this project has been extremely controversial and did not warrant approval at this time. I expressed several concerns including the uncertainty of how the pending court case, slated for mid-November, might further complicate matters. I stated that I feel the builder has been a poor neighbor and until a determination is made by the courts, I believed a delay was appropriate. Commissioner Kemp then expressed her agreement and made a motion to support a continuation. The motion was seconded, and the vote was unanimous, 7-0, continuing the matter until mid-December.
Thank you for continued support and vigilance.
Trial date has been moved to November.
More updates coming soon.
Your Subject (required):: Taylor Morrison is surveying 118 acres across the street from the Patterson Project
Your Message (required):: Good Morning
This past week a survey crew was working across the street from the Patterson project. This is a 118 acre parcel (as well as an additional 200 acre parcel) that was discussed via email during Taylor Morrison initial due diligence period and is owned by the same seller as the Patterson parcel (Double Screen LLC). Drew Miller, Taylor Morrison VP of Land Development, testified he had no knowledge of additional parcels of interest on Patterson Rd even though Double Screen owns almost 800 vacant acres. This 118 acre parcel (Folio 2700.1000) is depicted on the protectkeystone.com website if you would like a visual of this and the additional parcel to see how they work together.
Soon you will be presented with a request to approve the final plat for the Patterson Project as well as a request for acceptance of maintenance (bond is required, BOCC vote is required) for the oversize pipe that you never approved to a property with no vesting that legally allows utilities in the rural service area.
During Melissa Zornitta deposition last week, we asked her, if this plan was brought before you today as a rezoning would it be found to be consistent with the Keystone Comp Plan or the county comp plan and she said no. Taylor Morrison has had several design changes to the 32 year old site plan (lot lines, setbacks, wetlands, access) that have ALL been administratively approved claiming they do not rise to the level of a minor or major modification in an effort to avoid triggering a public hearing.
Taylor Morrison wants another Starkey Ranch in the middle of Keystone.
Our court date to resolve this issue was confirmed with the court for June 20-23, but Adam Gormly has now notified us he has a family vacation booked for that week. We might even be looking at a hearing date early 2024 based on the court backlog and trying to coordinate all the attorney and witness calendars.
Keystone residents watch daily as construction continues and now we see survey markers for another 100 acres.
You have the authority to push pause on approving the final plat. You definitely are well within your legal authority to deny accepting maintenance on this oversize pipe. You even have the authority to deny allowing that pipe to connect to county utilities.
Taylor Morrison has a permit to close the road for utility work this weekend. They are continuing pipe installation in a narrow right of way.
We elected you to be our voice. No one believes this vacant acreage would never be developed, but we firmly believed it would be done responsibly and legally. Vote NO on any additional approvals this developer needs to continue its assault on our community.
Current court cases have not slowed down the builders progress, just the opposite in-fact. Look at the diagram below and see what they are planning. We need all residents help to keep Keystone, Odessa neighborhoods rural as the comprehensive plan has laid out for our priceless community.
Taylor Morrison sought final summary judgment as to Count I, arguing that the challenged development order (i.e. the May 5, 2022 construction approval) does not meet the criteria of a challengeable development order under Fla. Stat. 163.3215 in that it does not materially alter the intensity, density, or use of the subject property. Taylor Morrison also argued that the lawsuit is not timely – alleging that the 1991 PD rezoning was the approval that should have been challenged. After hearing argument from both sides, and considering all the filings, the Court DENIED Taylor Morrison’s motion. The Court specifically held that “Count I will proceed to trial.” This was a powerful ruling in the Plaintiffs’ favor.
Even after the Judge ruled in our favor, Taylor Morrison jumped in and requested the court hear yet another motion for summary judgment to throw out the case before trial, this time for Count II of our amended complaint that the Judge also ruled in our favor when he allowed us to file.
This motion is set to be heard on June 6th at 2 pm. Mark this date on your calendars, as your continued presence and support is vital.
We are in the home stretch of depositions and we will continue to develop the case to be prepared fully for the June 20-23 trial.
Click above to read the whole story, its WELL WORTH your time!
There are two open trench box locations in the county right of way in our community. These are an immediate danger to our community and those who travel these roads.
One trench box is on Patterson Rd/Lake Julia Circle and the other is on Race Track Rd in front of Dreamstead Equestrian.
I was standing on the right of way (not in the construction area) today when there was a pile up of about 8 cars on Race Track Rd in front of Infields Dr. A van swerved from the road and came to rest in the right of way in front of me. 50 feet back and this woman driving would have ended up in the open trench box and seriously injured or dead.
There are not barriers surrounding the open trench boxes. Equipment and barriers should be 14 inches (clear zone) off the road in case car veers off road. There are unfilled and unpinned barriers on the actual pavement of the road.
There is no channelizing on the drive way to the Dreamstead Equestrian on Race Track where both sides of the road have construction. You have put this neighbor at safety by not having a clear and barricaded path for them to get on and out of their property. Especially if they are pulling a horse trailer.
The barriers themselves are not pinned together or filled with water as required. Just worthless pieces of plastic that offer no protection if a car swerved/veered of the road. Some of the barricades are broken at the bottom so there is no way to fill them with water.
Off of the driveway of Dreamstread Equestrial is a complete drop off into the open culvert.
And to top this off, there is an abandoned construction machine on a neighbor’s property– NOT the county right of way.
At the August 2022 BOCC meeting, you acknowledged our community’s outrage at having to monitor unpermitted and unsafe work in regards to this project. But here we are in January STILL dealing with unsafe conditions in our community.
I ask you to rectify this situation immediately.
And please have Taylor Morrison pick up all the trash in the right of way on Race Track Rd and Patterson Rd (both sides) Including the urine filled water bottle on Miss Vivian’s property across from the entrance to construction site on Patterson Rd.
Cordially, Beth White
Summarized, the lawsuit challenges the Construction Plan approval as inconsistent with the currently applicable comprehensive plans and alleges that the development, originally approved in 1991, should have proceeded under a Vested Rights Order pursuant to Development Procedure Section 5.2.3 and Land Development Code Section 11.02, or would be required to adhere to all currently applicable County codes and comprehensive plans.
“On Wednesday, residents repeated the allegations they had forwarded to the county previously. They said the contractor worked three months without a county permit; has worked earlier in the day and later at night than its permit allows; moved protected gopher tortoises improperly and stockpiled dirt mounds without permission.”
If there was ever a time to stand together, and showcase our community strength, THIS is the fight, our only fight, and the last fight to save Keystone!
The Keystone area, that we all sought out to be our community, because of its agricultural footprint and small town characteristics, is being threatened by developers with large urban developments (houses on 10,000sq lots). This is why residents of the community have come together to file a lawsuit in an attempt to hold the County to the current Keystone Community Standards.
We need Odessa residents and surrounding rural area land owners to join our rural community saving efforts. Taylor Morrison and Hillsborough County may have deep pockets, we have MANY more pockets and a country living HEART. If you LOVE the rural lifestyle and are able to help, this is the time to step up. Spread the word, share the website and lets stand up together to keep what brought us to Odessa, Florida!
Your involvement with contacting the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners is working!
Going around the BOCC and not following the proper permitting process is NOT ADVISED
Help keep your community informed by displaying a yard sign or banner to ProtectKeystone.com
The main request of the Keystone residents is:
– Support this lawsuit, by contributing to the legal fund, blast our fight on social media, and asking friends and family to help too. Keystone has 2600 residents, if everyone contributes a little, there will be enough contributions for the legal fees.
– Review the documents linked on this website to become familiar with the details of the activities, impacts and injustices.
We MUST STOP the county from bringing in public utilities and crossing over into rural areas. Once public utilities enter Keystone, we lose. You can expect more new development, forced public utilities on Keystone residents, etc.
Here are a few highlights for a quick summary:
– 1990’s the land was rezoned for planned development housing (10,000 sq lots)
– Twenty years later, the development plan was set to expire, however the county extended it 10 more years.
– December 2021 – Taylor Morrison bought the 194 acres of land for about $24 million.
– December 2021, the county bypassed 15 known requirements to validate and approve this outdated plan, such as the Keystone Community Plan which requires 1 home per 5 acres.
– June 2022 – Lawsuit filed against the county
– June 2022 – Emergency injunction filed against the county
April 2020 was the height of the Covid pandemic. All through 2020 up to May 2021, Taylor Morrison was working on site plans, traffic studies, environmental impact studies and submitting all of this to the county. A few items were kicked back and forth for review and changes. Once the county assured Taylor Morrison everything looked good to them, Taylor Morrison purchased the Patterson Rd property for $23.5 million on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2021.
In February 2022, the bulldozers showed up. Researching the county information through OPTIX, the site where developers upload their plans and the county posts documents and permit information related to a development, showed a site plan for 194 homes on small lots with connections to county utilities. When contacting the county Development Services Dept and asking why they would allow utilities, much less that much density, in Keystone and the county’s own Rural Service Area, which requires well/septic and large lots, the county responded that the original Planned Development Zoning approved in 1991 was the legal zoning for those parcels and there was nothing they could do.
The original zoning document does mention public utilities, however, the final approval of the zoning states, “approval of this development order/permit does not constitute a guarantee that there will be public facilities in place”. When Development Services was questioned on this wording, they said they are interpreting this statement as the county is required to allow utilities.
At this point, we started throwing everything we could at the county to postpone the signing of the development order because once the order is signed, if legal action is required, you only have 30 days to file a lawsuit. We started looking into the environmental studies, the traffic studies, the site plans, FL law. Keystone residents started contacting the BOCC and the media.
Taylor Morrison was busy too. They started clearing the site. They started bringing in mountains of fill dirt, they started cutting down hundreds of trees. The county advised us Taylor Morrison was only doing some preliminary work prior to their permits being issued. When they refused to believe Taylor Morrison could be doing anything illegal, I hired a drone operator to come out and take aerial footage of the site. I then sent that footage to all of the county departments that had not issued their permits yet, every county commissioner and the media.
This action resulted in a stop work order and a fine of $310k for the illegal removal of trees. Taylor Morrison submitted a plan to the county of how they were going to replace every tree that was cut down illegally. The county asked them for a few tweaks to their plan. Taylor Morrison resubmitted the plan. The county approved it. Taylor Morrison is no longer required to pay this fine and the county signed the final approval for the development order on May 5, 2022.
The scramble to find a lawyer started months ago. Between referrals, calls to law offices throughout central Florida, almost all had legal conflicts with the county or Taylor Morrison, 32 lawyers were contacted. We then contacted Jimmy Crawford, an attorney in Clermont, Florida who has filed these types of land use challenges in the past.
We are suing Hillsborough County NOT Taylor Morrison. This is a very important distinction and less expensive. We are suing the county for injunctive relief NOT damages. This will be a bench trial NOT a jury trial. There is just the judge and the two parties, not a lot of exhibits or witnesses like a jury trial.
We are suing under FL Statute 163.3215 that prevents the issuance of Development Orders that are inconsistent with the adopted local government comprehensive plans, both Hillsborough County’s comprehensive plan AND the Keystone Comprehensive Plan.
We are arguing when the county adopted the Future Land Use Element (FLUE) of the Comprehensive Plan for Unincorporated Hillsborough County in 2008, the 1991 PD for this development site became inconsistent with Hillsborough County’s own growth management rules that they wrote and made significant changes to in 2008.
# 1: Not allowing intensive residential development outside of the Urban Service Area
# 2: Preservation of natural environment areas and ecosystems and the maintenance of the rural lifestyle without the expectation of future urbanization. (Remember the county’s public statements on how environmentally important this land was and their number one priority to purchase).
# 3: Limit public potable water and wastewater lines from being extended into the Rural Service Area, except under specified conditions. None of the exceptions to this prohibition are met by this project.
# 4: The project never established vested rights to the utilities. This is a process the county requires of old zonings to make sure they meet current land use and utilities requirements. Taylor Morrison never filed this application. Hillsborough County admits it was never completed.
# 5: The county’s approval of the development order directs new growth in the RSA in violation of their own objectives
# 6: Objective 4 of the county’s own code states “The rural area will provide for long term agricultural uses and large lot, low density rural residential uses which can exist without the threat of urban or suburban encroachment
# 7: Objective 4.1 rural area densities will be no higher than 1 dwelling per 5 acres
# 8: This density and utilities violates the Keystone Comprehensive Plan
And speaking of the Keystone Plan..did you know on page 10 it states, “no density credits will be assigned to wetland areas for new development”.
# 9: The county allowed Taylor Morrison to purchase mitigation permits and environmental credits for construction in wetland areas and the removal of trees.
Back to the county’s own rules
# 10: Objective 16.2 of the FLUE requires a gradual transition of intensities between different land uses
This site only has 13 residential lots bordering it, all greater than one acre in size. That accounts for 20% of the total property boundary. The remaining 80% of the surrounding property has no development whatsoever. By allowing 194 homes, the county is in violation of the 16.2 objective by not having a gradual transition
# 11: Objective 16.8 states the overall density and lot sizes of new residential projects shall reflect the character of the surrounding area, recognizing the choice of lifestyles. Again, the county’s own words.
# 12: Last one! Objective 8.2 Livable Communities which requires the county to only direct growth within the USA
The beauty of this FL Statute is, even though we have laid out these 12 points where we think the county is wrong, the judge only has to agree with one of them and we win.
So step one is complete. The lawsuit has been filed.
Taylor Morrison has been working on Saturdays to get ahead of this lawsuit. Pipes have been delivered to the site and blue flags have appeared down racetrack rd where they plan to connect to utilities; potable and stormwater will run down one side of racetrack rd and wastewater will run down the other side. Because we can not allow them to get a utility line to the site and because the county is dragging their feet on responding to the lawsuit, our attorney has advised filing an emergency order for a temporary injunction. This order will be filed this week. The same judge assigned to our case will preside over this proceeding within 10 days. If he rules in our favor, work will stop on the site. The county will file their response and we will be ready to start mediation in the hopes of a settlement. This is Step Two.
Step Three depends on what the county’s response is. It is very unlikely they will proceed directly to trial. I do not have a cost estimate for this scenario. However, please keep in mind, we are suing the county, not Taylor Morrison. The county attorneys are salaried employees and can not charge what private attorneys charge. If we settle, the agreement will include a clause that states everyone pays their own legal fees. If we win outright, the county will have to reimburse our reasonable legal fees. If they win outright, we will have to pay theirs.
Fundraising is our most important focus right now.
Please give what you can and give us some fun fundraising ideas.
We are passionate about our choice to live in rural Odessa, Florida. Let’s connect online to discuss ways to raise funds.