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Neighbors fear proposed apartments could cause flooding

10:51 PM, Oct 9, 2012   |    comments
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NEW PORT RICHEY, Florida - Kathy Larkin loves her neighborhood and takes pride in her property.

"I take care of the front yard, [my husband] takes care of the back," said Larkin.

She and her husband purchased their home across from a preserve in the Riverside Village neighborhood 15 years ago. Now they worry the neighborhood they've always known could change forever.

"We were told when we bought the property that this would always remain woods. It was a wildlife preserve and that's the way we'd like it to stay," said Larkin.

But now a plan to development 21 acres of land has over 100 new apartments slated to go up right next to the Larkin's home. The complex would not only mean less wildlife, but increased traffic along their residential road and the threat of flooding, as was seen during Tropical Storm Debby.

"These roads were basically impassable," said Bill Gillies, who is heading up "We Are 5533 Strong," a group representing the 5,500 or so voters in the area. Many are opposed to the apartment project.

"We intend on doing everything legally possible to block this," said Gillies.

State Senator Mike Fasano is also on board, calling the development unfair. "We're going to fight this right up to the county commission and, if necessary, to the court system," said Senator Fasano.

The land's development was approved by the county years ago, but since then much has changed. And while the developer promises upscale apartments, residents say they're not interested, worried any development could impact property values and quality of life.

"We don't want them," stressed Larkin. "Everyone feels the same way, the impact is going to be tremendous on our little subdivision."

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