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Odessa neighbors sue Hillsborough County over land dispute

Neighbors say the development goes against land use rules set for their area.

ODESSA, Fla. — Hillsborough County has been hit with a lawsuit from neighbors in Odessa who say a new housing development that’s being built in the Keystone area doesn’t follow land-use protections.

Keystone is a quiet area with winding two-lane roads, mossy trees, and space. At least…for now it is.  

“There’s going to be a lot of added traffic a lot of extra noise, more kids in the schools that are already overpopulated,” Mike Atherton, the president of the Keystone Civic Association, said.

That’s what neighbors are expecting if developer Taylor Morrison is allowed to move forward with their plan to build nearly 200 homes on about 200 acres off of Patterson Road. Neighbors say, that goes against land-use rules set for their area.

“Our community plan since 2001 is one house per five acres,” Atherton said.

But that community plan hasn’t stopped land preparation for the build.

Taylor Morrison released a statement in response to the lawsuit stating their permits were already approved to being site work.

"Taylor Morrison is pleased to have the opportunity to develop a community in the Keystone area and we are working to ensure that it will complement the natural elements and beauty of the surrounding properties," the company said. "We did receive a stop work order from Hillsborough County on April 26, 2022, in connection with this project. Prior to the site work starting, the county’s Natural Resources department had already reviewed and approved the permit plans, however, the final construction permit had not been issued. Although the work was briefly paused, no trees were cleared outside of the permit limits and the plan for the site meets all zoning requirements.

The developer believes there is confusion in regards to the zoning for the property, which they say falls outside of the 2001 overlay zone.

"The community plans are in full accordance with zoning and it is being built based on the zoning that applies specifically to this site location," it added. "We regret the timing error on the site work and we are working with the applicable County authorities to ensure we timely address the matter. We have since received our full site permit from the County and have resumed our development activity with the County’s approval. Taylor Morrison will continue to closely coordinate with the County under their guidance and appreciates their diligence in this matter."

Neighbors met Thursday evening to vote on the best way to move forward, even taking donations to help with the legal battle they’ll be facing as a community after 20 people filed suit over the development.

“We’ll take any help that we can get in support of this,” Atherton said. “To the developer, you know, we’d love to at least be able to work with you and get it more to our community plan that is set in place.”

10 Tampa Bay reached out to Hillsborough County in which they responded, "The County has a policy of not commenting on pending litigation cases."

At the meeting on Thursday, civic association members tell us they voted to put $15,000 toward the fight in court.

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