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Parrish residents unite to fight development of proposed Springfield subdivision

PARRISH -- As subdivisions go, 19 houses rank as small potatoes.

But Parrish residents say the proposed Springfield development off 25th Street East would open the floodgates to more development and bring urban sprawl to their quiet neighborhood of massive oaks along the north side of the Manatee River.

Springfield developer Shunn-Shion Chung has been down this road before.

In 2003, he requested approval to build 30 houses on the 12-acre site. He was turned down by Manatee County officials.

So many houses on 12 acres would be out of character with the neighborhood, county officials said. Springfield would not only be incompatible with its surroundings, it would also create drainage issues.

Although Chung’s plans have been scaled back from 30 houses to 19, neighbors say it’s still too much. The property is zoned for agricultural use, allowing for only one residence per 5 acres.

Earlier this month, commissioners deferred action on Chung’s request.

When commissioners take up the request again at 9 a.m. Thursday, residents of the neighborhood say they will pack the county commission chambers to let their voices be heard.

“He knew going in that he might not be able to develop it,” said Ann Lyon, who has lived on a 5-acre parcel south of 25th Street East for 25 years.

“One of our concerns is that it would change the uniqueness, the character of the area,” she said.

There has been a groundswell of neighborhood opposition to Chung’s proposal. Many front yards along 25th Street East and Wellon Ranch Road have yard signs opposing the development.

“We had 53 people in opposition at the Nov. 3 meeting,” Lyon said. “We’re really united against this.”

Patricia Petruff, Chung’s attorney, met with residents after the Nov. 3 meeting, and said Chung offered to reduce the number of homes built to 12, but was unable to negotiate a compromise.

“I really don’t understand where they are coming from,” Petruff said.

But Lyon said residents suggested that rather than 19 units, or 12 units, that Chung build only six at Springfield.

“There was no negotiating, that was the end of it,” Lyon said of the response to the request from neighbors.

Residents of Parkwood Lakes Estates, off Old Tampa Road, have also chimed in against Springfield.

Parkwood, just north of Chung’s property, was also zoned agricultural at one time. It was rezoned to allow several residential units per acre, rather than one per 5 acres, Petruff said.

“It’s difficult for me to understand what problem Parkwood might have,” Petruff said.

Chung has agreed to keep Springfield separate from Parkwood, so that Parkwood would not experience more traffic, Petruff said.

Unlike Parkwood, however, the residences along the south side of 25th Street East are set on larger acreages.

“Springfield would set such a precedent,” Lyon said.

The wide open spaces are a remnant of old Florida, Lyon said.

Glyndell Haddaway lives just east of Lyon on 25th Street East.

“We came here from St. Petersburg to have this kind of living. We have been here 18 years and just love it,” said Haddaway, a retired educator. “We are disappointed that this has gone on so long.”

Neighbors thought Chung’s request was dead after it was turned down in 2003.

“It isn’t fair to the people in this community. We all feel the same. How do the rights of one person trump the rights of a hundred on this street?” Haddaway said.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021.