Updated mobility fees proposed in Pasco

The Pasco County Commission is expected to take final action on an update to the county’s mobility fees at its Dec. 11 meeting.

Commissioners are expected to approve several changes, which include adding new categories and reducing some fees.

Mobility fees are based on the transportation impacts caused by new development, which is typically expressed in the number of trips the development generates.

These fees are one-time charges to new construction.

The update calls for reducing fees in these categories: High-rise condominiums; age-restricted communities; congregate care facilities; college/university in suburban/rural areas; churches in suburban areas; hospitals; and hardware/paint stores (but not big box stores, such as Lowe’s or Home Depot).

The update also introduces five new land uses: Non-veterinary kennel; breakfast/lunch only restaurant; fast-casual restaurant; ice-skating arena; and active/passive warehouse.

The update also calls for reducing the fee for residential development in rural areas on lots of 5 acres or more.

Currently, the mobility fee for a new single-family home is $9,800 in the rural district; $8,570 in the suburban district; and, $5,835 in the urban district.

Under the proposed rate schedule, a new single-family home built on 5 acres or more in the rural district would pay the same fee as the same-size home built in the suburban district, which is $8,570. Those built on smaller lots in the rural district would continue to pay $9,800.

Besides changing specific categories, there’s also a proposal to update the mobility fee schedule every five years, instead of approximately every three years, as has been the practice.

Lengthening the time between updates, coupled with an increasing number of permit applications, would allow the county to reduce the permit administration fee from $392 per permit to $136 per permit.

The update also proposed additional incentives to spur development along U.S. 19.

During a previous workshop, commissioners talked about dropping discount rates for market-rate apartments in the urban district and removing discounts for mini-warehouses.

Now, commissioners appear likely to move ahead on the mobility fee package, but to have staff take a deeper look at the issue of market-rate apartments and mini-warehouses.

They want staff to look at those issues, both in term of mobility fees and zoning. That process could take months to complete.

Commissioner Mike Moore was unsuccessful in persuading his colleagues to drop the incentive for high-end apartments.

He makes no secret of his opposition to what he views as an oversaturation of apartment development along State Road 54/State Road 56.

Besides taking up space that would be better left for other types of development that creates jobs, Moore said he’s concerned about potential long-term consequences of too much apartment development.

Moore said he’s not talking about dropping the incentive for apartments that have already been approved.

“There are quite a few entitlements currently out there already. I understand that some people have already budgeted for their project and increasing the fees at this time could have a negative impact. I get it. They’d be grandfathered in,” Moore said.

But, Commissioner Kathryn Starkey offered a different perspective.

“I think multifamily serves an important need in our community,” Starkey said.

“It’s not whether I like them or not. Do I think there’s a use in the community for people who can’t afford a house in a gated community? Yes, I do.

“I think the market will dictate whether these get built or not,” she said.

She also noted that when the extension of State Road 56 is completed between Meadow Pointe Boulevard in Wesley Chapel and U.S. 301 in Zephyrhills, there likely will be demand for apartments there.

“I would think that some of that community might like some nice, new apartments,” she said.

Commissioner Mike Wells said he supported the planning commission’s recommendation on the mobility fee update.

Wells also agreed with Starkey: “The market decides.”

Land use attorney Clarke Hobby, who served on the county’s mobility fees committee, noted the committee did not discuss whether the fees should be changed for apartments or mini-warehouses.

That discussion came up during a board workshop on the issue, after the mobility fee committee completed its work.

“We didn’t know this was an issue,” Hobby said, adding that’s a significant issue to address without getting the mobility fee committee’s input.

Hobby also pointed out that the county has expressed a desire to prevent urban sprawl.

“Now, you’re just saying you want suburban sprawl in the urban service area, if we go down that route,” Hobby said.

Commissioners didn’t take any action during the first public hearing on the updated fee schedule held on Nov. 27, but based on their discussion, it appears likely they will approve the updated mobility fee schedule at the Dec. 11 public hearing.

Published December 5, 2018

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