Protecting Northeast Pasco’s rural nature

More than a decade ago, Pasco County adopted a future land use goal of preserving the character of what is dubbed its “northeast rural area.” Bellamy Brothers Boulevard, the Green Swamp, State Road 52 and the Hernando County line define the area’s borders.

Pasco County commissioners are considering a rural protection ordinance to preserve the rural character of northeast Pasco including homes on large land lots. (Photos courtesy of Richard K. Riley)

Pasco County commissioners are considering a rural protection ordinance to preserve the rural character of northeast Pasco including homes on large land lots.
(Photos courtesy of Richard K. Riley)

While there’s a goal on the books, there’s currently no ordinance that puts regulations in place to accomplish it.

But, that is about to change.

On July 12, Pasco County commissioners had a public hearing on a rural protection ordinance that, if approved, would create an overlay district and govern residential development involving three houses, or more.

The proposed ordinance also sets lighting standards and prohibits mining or development activities that would lop off the tops of hillsides or destroy vistas.

A separate ordinance would deal with commercially zoned properties and the county’s designated areas for employment centers, which are generally found along U.S. 301.

Richard Riley, who lives in the community of Trilby, gave a power point presentation during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Matthew Armstrong, executive planner, and Justyna Buszewski, planner II, of the Pasco County Planning Division, explain some of the conditions proposed in the rural protection ordinance.

Matthew Armstrong, executive planner, and Justyna Buszewski, planner II, of the Pasco County Planning Division, explain some of the conditions proposed in the rural protection ordinance.

“Everything up here is photogenic,” said Riley, a freelance photographer who has done work for various publications, including The Laker/Lutz News.

“It’s wonderful to be here,” Riley added.

Though the ordinance isn’t perfect, Riley said, “We’re supportive of most of the parts of the ordinance. We’re trying our best to get something on the books.”

Pasco County Commissioner Ted Schrader said the ordinance was in “pretty good shape,” but he expressed concerns about regulations on landscaping.

Specifically, he challenged trees as allowable buffers along scenic corridors, potentially blocking out the vistas the ordinance is meant to protect.

If the intent is to protect vistas, Schrader said, “That doesn’t accomplish that.”

County planners said they were trying to give developers and landowners options on buffering, but would look at tweaking the ordinance.

The final public hearing is scheduled for Aug. 19 at 1:30 p.m., at the historic Pasco County Courthouse at 37918 Meridian Ave., in Dade City.

Published July 20, 2016

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