Thursday, Jul 31, 2014
News

Arc Nature Coast plans major expansion

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BROOKSVILLE - Since 1975, the non-profit Arc Nature Coast has used its site off Neff Lake Road as its administrative office and skill training center for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

But now, Arc officials want to expand the uses on the 30-acre site and build a six-bed congregate care home for the more severely disabled and add a comprehensive campus with educational facility.

On Monday, they will ask planning and zoning commissioners for a special exception use permit allowing them to move forward with the three-phase project.

Mark Barry, the Arc's executive director, said the Neff Lake home will complement his organization's four other group homes throughout the county. This one, though, would cater to people with more severe developmental disabilities, he said.

The funding comes from a $325,000 grant from the Florida Housing Corporation.

Barry said the home will be built so that it will blend into the immediate area and will not have an institutional-type facade. It will also have a separate entrance from the administrative offices.

"To the casual observer, they wouldn't even know that the two are related," Barry said.

The Arc serves about 180 people each year and has 73 staffers.

Barry said there is a "pent-up need" for another such residential home for those with disabilities.

The first phase calls for construction of a 3,000-square-foot congregate care center for six residents to be built in 2014-15.

For phase two, the Arc plans to tear down the existing building used for client skill training and replace it with a 5,000-square-foot training facility. The new building would remain on the north side of the property, closer to the entrance on Neff Lake Road. The administrative building would also be renovated during this phase, to be completed in 2016-18.

Phase three, set for 2016 and beyond, calls for construction of three more residential homes, with 18 additional people and would be built as resources become available.

Office and training facility offices would be operational 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. The proposed residential homes would be operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Planning staffers are recommending approval of the project and, in a report, said it is compatible with the surrounding area and is in a low-density development residential use area.

County Commissioner Dave Russell said Arc has gone many years with an outdated administrative building.

"It's time to update and expand to accommodate their clients," Russell said. "They've helped their members become useful members of society. That's their mission. "(Clients) live happy, healthier lives and the community benefits from that."

The planning and zoning meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Monday at the Hernando County Government Center, 20 North Main St. in downtown Brooksville.

To view the entire agenda and see all staff reports, visit http://hernandocountyfl.iqm2.com/citizens/

mbates@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5290

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