County seeks business park for future development

Pasco County wants to encourage more business parks and diversify the county’s job base.

The county’s Office of Economic Growth is spearheading that effort by scouting for vacant land that can be made site-ready to attract developers on speculation.

In keeping with that goal, county staff members introduced a proposal for the Vibrant Sun Business Park at a Jan. 11 meeting of the Development Review Committee.

The park, on a large triangular swath of county land, would be bordered on the east by Old Pasco Road and on the west by Interstate 75. It also is near State Road 54 and Overpass Road.

If approved, the site would be available for 2.2 million square feet of corporate offices, manufacturing and distribution, industrial, and mixed office uses.

The county especially wants to encourage corporate business parks with campuses of multiple buildings.

A site-ready property could clear the way for quicker development, county officials said.

Committee members voted to recommend approval of a comprehensive land use change, as well as a rezoning of the site.

The Pasco County Commission will make the final decision.

“We have enough residential approved in the county,” said Chris Williams, a committee member and director of planning for Pasco County Schools. “We need some business and light industrial that can attract companies and bring some jobs.”

It’s unknown what development offers might be made to the county, however.

“We’re looking to prepare the site as a ready site. We don’t have a plan in place for disposition of the parcel,” said Peter Lent, program administrator for the county’s Office of Economic Growth. “We don’t have a use in mind right now.”

That bothered some area residents, who live off Old Pasco Road. They said they worried about the lack of information on what businesses might operate on the site. They also had questions about traffic impacts, loss of property values and whether a business park fit well next to residential.

Dennis and Ethel Seaton live on Bay Pines Drive, across from the proposed park. They have a 14-year-old son who has cerebral palsy and is sensitive to “bright lights and sudden noises,” his father said.

“There would be big lights up there,” he said. “This would cause major concern for us. It’s going to cause overwhelming congestion and my son to go into seizures.”

Residents also asked if the county had a plan to deal with the increasing traffic congestion in the area.

The speed limit on Old Pasco Road is 35 mph, but resident Jean Jakes said, “No one, including school buses, obeys it. You’re going to have to put a (traffic) light every three steps.”

Jakes didn’t see how industrial next to residential could be a good fit.

“There is no compatibility,” she said. “It doesn’t match the neighborhood. It doesn’t match the area. It doesn’t match the use of the land.”

County officials said differently zoned areas often sit next to each other, but that buffering requirements would provide separation between the business park and nearby homes.

The 91-acre site is close by an area in northeastern Pasco already targeted for new residential and commercial development.

The Connected City corridor encompasses about 7,800 acres of property designated as a state-approved development district. It is bordered by Interstate 75, State Road 52, and Curley and Overpass roads.

The initiative is focused on creating communities that are the wave of the future, with new jobs based on cutting edge technology. The first master-planned community under construction is Epperson, at Overpass and Curley.

Major road projects are underway to widen State Road 52 and build a new interchange at Overpass and I-75.

Old Pasco Road intersects State Road 52, which is being widened from two lanes to six lanes, from west of Old Pasco to east of Corporate Boulevard.

But, in response to residents’ queries, county officials said there are no plans or funds for widening Old Pasco. Any project likely would be in the long-range plan stretching to 2040.

Right of way is being obtained for the Overpass interchange, but construction isn’t scheduled until 2022.

Published January 24, 2018

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