NEW PORT RICHEY — The developer of an apartment complex that has drawn legal challenges from several neighborhood associations has demanded that homeowners reimburse it for more than $27,000 in attorney fees or face a lawsuit.
"I am hopeful that this matter will be amicably resolved," wrote Kent G. Whittemore, attorney for Clearwater-based Scherer Development, who sent a letter on April 4 giving the presidents of three homeowners associations until the end of the month to send the money. "If however, it is not, my client will have no alternative but to seek its full damages against all of those legally responsible," the letter said.
The associations, which represent neighborhoods heavily populated with retirees, have been fighting efforts by Scherer to build the Oaks Apartments at Riverside Village, on land off Amazon Drive.
In September, county staffers approved plans for the complex, which call for a first phase of six two-story units, a 3,000-square-foot clubhouse, swimming and splash pools, a playground, picnic pavilions, tennis and basketball courts, a mulched car wash area, a 2-acre park with an open play area, parking lots and seven garages. County staffers said the development meets or exceeds all land use requirements, and the land is already zoned as multifamily.
Last month, the Development Review Committee, a group made up of the county's top administrators, rejected the homeowners' appeal of the staff decision. The homeowners then vowed to appeal to the Pasco County Commission, and if that fails, to court.
Shortly after the project was proposed, opponents of the proposed complex started a group called We Are 5533 Strong, hired an attorney and set up a website. They found an ally in state Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, a former resident of the area who spoke up for them at a county meeting, where they expressed concerns about flooding, traffic and reduced property values.