CARROLLWOOD - When St. Paul Catholic Church sought to turn part of its campus into a cemetery, some Carrollwood residents called it inappropriate and out of character with the neighborhood.
But in a report issued this week, a Hillsborough County land-use officer who heard the proposal on June 24 recommended approving the church's rezoning request.
Opponents, including three homeowners associations and 300 residents who signed petitions, said a cemetery would reduce property values and pose traffic problems.
Hearing officer James Scarola said the proposed 3-acre cemetery on the church property, 12708 N. Dale Mabry Highway, is consistent with both the county's comprehensive plan and the development pattern of the surrounding neighborhood.
Responding to opponents, he said that "no competent substantial evidence" was presented to justify the argument a cemetery would diminish the value of nearby property.
Additionally, he concluded the church demonstrated through trip generation data that the zoning change would reduce, rather than increase, traffic from the site.
The 50-year-old church conducts about 100 funerals annually. At the June hearing, Joseph DiVito, a St. Petersburg lawyer representing the Diocese of St. Petersburg, said an on-site cemetery would reduce traffic because it would allow funeral services and burials to take place at the same location.
The property at the northwest corner of Dale Mabry and Stall Road is within the Greater Carrollwood/Northdale Community Plan area but not within the Carrollwood Village development.
The Hillsborough County Commission is scheduled to hear the rezoning request at its meeting Aug. 13. If the plan is approved, the church still would need to obtain a permit to develop the acreage as a cemetery.