Despite neighbors’ concerns, commissioners OK subdivision

The Pasco County Commission has approved a 145-home subdivision on the west side of Fort King Road, south of State Road 52 and north of Roberts Road, despite opposition by neighbors.

Attorney Barbara Wilhite, representing the applicant, Dade City Fifty LLC, noted that the county’s future land use designation allows a potential of 284 units on the 50-acre property.

Wilhite also noted that flooding historically has been an issue in the area, and that this project will actually help improve drainage.

Neighbors expressed concerns about flooding back in 2005 when the property originally was rezoned to allow 100 homes, Wilhite said.

“The board heard these neighbors’ concerns and put stricter requirements,” Wilhite said, noting that a study of Tank Lake was done and the board adopted a Drainage Basin of Special Concern ordinance in the summer of 2005.

“So, as we come forward now in 2018, this project has to comply with those (stricter) standards,” Wilhite said.

Jeremy Couch, with Tampa Civil Design in Lutz, said he understands neighbors’ concerns.

“We’re higher than them, their fear is that we’re going to dump more water on them.

“We’re going to keep it (the water) there. We’re not going to let it go downstream,” Couch said.

Twenty-nine percent of the property is going to be used for ponds and drainage, Wilhite said.

“One 50-acre project is not going to fix the flooding that happens downstream. But, we are going to do our little part,” Couch said. “And, our little part is to put in infrastructure, trap the water and keep the volume. We are not going to slow-release. We’re just going to hold it.”

Still, neighbors were skeptical.

Once the retention pond fills up, the water will flow downhill, they said.

“What they’re going to do — I can guarantee you, is not going to hold all that,” said Betty Jean Perez, of 12431 Fort King Road. “When that water comes down, off those hills, it comes down like a river — a rushing, rushing river.”

Kathleen Schrimpf, of 12457 Fort King Road, also weighed in: “I understand they’re not responsible for the entire flooding issue in this area, however, I’m not confident that what they’re doing isn’t going to at least exacerbate the problem.”

Marie McLeod, 12524 Green Oak Lane, who said she’s been a flooding victim twice, urged board members to protect the neighbors.

“I would like to place my trust in you, that you will keep us safe and dry,” McLeod told commissioners.

Eddie Schultz, 12510 Fort King Road, noted: “I do think the engineers have done a good job of trying to come up with a solution.”

However, Schultz added, “there is a real concern about the ability of the water to actually be absorbed. The question is, how fast can it be absorbed?”

Cheryl Musgrove, speaking on behalf of her mother, Martha Damron, of 12231 Fort King Road, said there’s standing water on her mother’s property now — just from normal rains.

“Flooding plans are nice, but if they don’t work, real people’s lives and older homes are at risk of flood damage and loss,” Musgrove told commissioners.

Sheila Tomlinson, 12649 Green Oak Lane, said adding more homes will increase the potential for flooding.

“That’s a lot of roof, that’s a lot of cement, that’s a lot of driveways, that’s a lot of sidewalk,” she said.

Tomlinson said she was unaware of the area’s flooding problem when she moved into her home in 2004.

“Within two months, we had hurricanes come in.

“I was the mother of twin daughters. Every day I had to walk with my children on my shoulders in waist-deep water, so we could go to school and work every day for over a month,” Tomlinson said.

Jeff Richey, 12509 Green Oak Lane, cited concerns about increased traffic.

There are no sidewalks in the area, he said.

Plus, “at the wrong time of the day, it’s hard enough to get out of our neighborhood,” Richey added.

Wilhite said the applicant hired a traffic consultant to analyze the situation and that there will be no degradation of traffic standards, even with the project’s traffic.

Pasco County Commissioner Ron Oakley, former chairman of the board for the Southwest Florida Water Management District, said the area has been plagued by drainage problems and efforts have been underway for years — and still continue — to address the issue.

Meanwhile, Oakley said, “I appreciate this development taking care of as much water as they can going across their property.”

Commissioners approved the rezoning, 5-0.

Published September 12, 2018

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