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WE’VE GOT SOME BREAKING NEWS

 

Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs’ Motion for Temporary Injunction (01-27-23)

Judge bars Taylor Morrison from selling homes in disputed Keystone development

“The ruling comes after residents asked the court to halt construction on the 194-home project.” 
 
READ THE FULL TAMPA BAY TIMES PIECE HERE
 
DONATIONS: We need all the financial help we can get to move to the arbitration portion of this case. This entire process has been privately funded by YOU, the KEYSTONE COMMUNITY. We don’t have the deep pockets that Hillsborough County and Talor Morrison have, but we do have our residents! Your donations have funded our ability to get this judgment, we ask for all residents to get involved in helping us raise whats needed to complete what we’ve started and KEEP KEYSTONE ODESSA the RURAL PARADISE it is, as described in the 2002 Keystone Comprehensive Plan.
Getting involved makes a difference.

 

Thank you for joining us in person on January 18 to show your support!

Judges decision is due January 27th!

 
MATTER: Plaintiffs’ Emergency Motion for Injunction, filed on June 30, 2022
 
DATE: Wednesday, January 18, 2023 
 
TIME: 8:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. (time allotted 4 hours) 
 
PLACE: 800 E. Twiggs Street, Tampa, Florida, Courtroom #500
 
JUDGE: Honorable Mark R. Wolfe 

Unsafe conditions
in Right of Way on Patterson Rd and Race Track Rd in
Keystone, Odessa

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

 

Did anyone else notice the utilities they are putting in down Racetrack Rd are much too large for this proposed development?

That’s right Keystone residents; Taylor Morrison is so confident they are going to win this lawsuit, they are installing infrastructure for Phase Two WITH THE COUNTY’S HELP!!!

ARE YOU MAD YET? HELP US FIGHT!!!

Our next court hearing is January 18, 2023.
10/14/2022 UPDATE
3-WAY STOP INDEFINITELY SUSPENDED!
Proposed 3-WAY STOP at Racetrack/Patterson intersection has been indefinitely suspended! Thank youto everyone that called or emailed the BOCC to express your outrage! Getting involded makes a difference!
It is past time for Hillsborough County Commissioners to do the right thing and stop these unnecessary and harmful developments.
Keystone and other Florida communities are being victimized by developers and the county needs to step in. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/ WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Land development company Taylor Morrison has continued to bully residents of Keystone by exploiting legal loopholes and blatantly ignoring local laws, and Hillsborough County has yet to put a stop to it.

Keystone, a rural area about half an hour north of USF, has been fighting to stop the development of 194 new homes in its community since August. Not only does it threaten their agricultural way of life, but the plans explicitly violate local ordinances, such as the Keystone Community Plan and the Unincorporated Hillsborough County Comprehensive Plan.

Keystone is a rural community in northwest Hillsborough County, only about half an hour from USF.

Hillsborough County recently approved a plan for the development of Keystone by the company Taylor-Morrison despite this plan violating several local laws and guidelines. On Aug. 17, residents brought a case to the Board of Commissioners to halt this project before it does irreversible damage to their community. 

It’s past time that county commissioners such as Harry Cohen put a stop to this plan, as it clearly violates multiple local laws and guidelines. 

Taylor Morrison doesn’t seem to care about worker safety either.
No trench box or ladder in use to prevent collapse or allow escape?
8/26/2022 UPDATE
Hillsborough BOCC can stop this! Here’s how.

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.

8/24/2022 Working after 7pm. Equipment running and no operator in sight. REALLY?

What will it take to get the county commission to shut the site down until we can have our day in court? Maybe more flagrant disregard for the law?

8/23/2022 Some pics and a video of what looks like possible environmental violations.
“The construction directly across the lake does not have the black silk fence boards ring the lake… all of that dirt and debris will fall into the lake… is there anything we can do? I’m pretty sure that’s against the law big time, especially on a lake.”
Hillsborough commission won’t halt disputed Keystone development. Read More.

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.” 

Read the whole story at the Tampa Bay Times

Fundraising is our most important focus right now.

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.

Click to view:

Public utilities and tax increases are coming

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!

SAFE + EASY DONATIONS

Donation to Protect Keystone

 

8/10/2022 Correspondence to S.Costello

Your involvement with contacting the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners is working!

CLICK HERE for the PDF

 

Going around the BOCC and not following the proper permitting process is NOT ADVISED

Taylor Morrison requested, and was denied, permits to work in the right of way on Racetrack Rd at night.
This night, they decided they didn’t need to follow the county’s rules

VIEW VIDEO


Please contact your county commissioners to ask WHY they are not willing to halt the Keystone development.

EMAIL BOCC TODAY:  Click THIS LINK and choose “Check All” before sending.

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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.

Tampa Beacon News Article
CLICK HERE

Bay News 9 Article
CLICK HERE

Tampa Bay Times Article 1
CLICK HERE

Tampa Bay Times Article 2
CLICK HERE

Tampa Bay Times Article 3
CLICK HERE

Patch.com
CLICK HERE

Do we have any chance of winning this case?

Let’s go through the actual lawsuit.

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.

 

Those rules are: (these are the county’s own words)

# 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.

EMAIL BOCC TODAY:  Click THIS LINK and choose “Check All” before sending.

 

Fundraising is our most important focus right now.
Please give what you can and give us some fun fundraising ideas.

IF WE WIN - DONATIONS WILL BE REIMBURSED (minus fees)

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