‘Powerglides’ launch site gets OK

The Pasco County Commission has given the green-light to a conditional use permit to allow takeoffs and landings of motorized parachute devices — known as powerglides — on a 19-acre parcel, at the southeast corner of McKendree Road and Tyndall Road in Wesley Chapel.

While commissioners approved the request, Commissioner Mike Moore questioned why they were even considering the issue.

”Why does this have to come in front of the board? I see these things flying all over, where I live. Literally, I see these all over Pasco County all of the time,” Moore said.

“I just think it’s a waste of these people’s time to have to come do this. That’s my opinion,” Moore said.

Denise Hernandez, the county’s zoning administrator, said the use is not considered to be a customary and incidental use of agricultural property.

County attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder noted: “If the board wishes to make this a permitted use in an agricultural district, it can. It isn’t currently. That’s why it’s before you today.”

Moore reiterated that he sees this type of device flying all over Pasco County.

Steinsnyder responded: “The flying isn’t illegal. It’s the landing and taking off on a piece of property. I don’t know where those you are seeing are landing and taking off from.

“This is the use of a piece of property.”

Commission Chairman Ron Oakley told Moore, “One of the reasons we’re here is because they take off and land and cross a person’s property next door, that affects the person’s way of life.”

Oakley added that the neighbor boards horses, and “these motors going across her property is causing her an issue.”

Attorney Barbara Wilhite, represented applicant Carol A. Roth.

She said a neighbor complained and a citation was issued by code enforcement.

The applicant had the choice of litigating the issue, or seeking a conditional use permit and opted to pursue the conditional use, the attorney said.

Wilhite noted there is a radio-controlled model airplane club that operates nearby, as well as a motocross track.

A paraglider spoke during the public hearing. He showed commissioners a video that demonstrates how the motorized crafts work, and also showed them a couple of horses in a field that did not appear to be disturbed by the motorized paragliders.

But, Gena Hester, who lives on Tyndall Road next to Roth’s property, voiced opposition

“The RC (radio-controlled) flyers across the street, they don’t fly over my property. The guys down the street that have the four-wheelers, they’re not flying over my property. I’m talking about my property,” she said.

“I have held a county boarding license since 2002. I have been boarding (horses) since 2003. The men, when they’re landing, they’re landing up to 10 feet over my property.”

She said she had shown a video during the Planning Commission meeting on the request, which showed that “they did land over their (her horses) heads, and they did scare my horses.”

Hester added: “They were flying in the front pasture, the side pasture, everywhere. That takes away my quiet use and enjoyment of my property.

“It’s my property that I want to ride my horses on, and those things are loud. Consider the size of a large lawnmower, and they’re flying over my house. I can’t ride my horse. Nobody else can ride their horse. Because it scares them. That’s the point I’m trying to get at,” Hester said.

Wilhite said the applicant has tried to work with staff and tried to achieve a balance.

“Can I say that my client is comfortable with these conditions? No. Do they want to be able to move forward, does she want to be able to use her property? Yes. That’s where we’re at,” Wilhite said.

Moore said the proposed area for takeoffs and landings seems to be a better option than other, more congested areas of the county.

“You see them going over (State Road) 56 and (Interstate) 75 on a pretty consistent basis,” and he said, adding he worries about their safety there.

The board approved the request, subject to numerous conditions, including:

  • A maximum of four takeoffs and four landings per day
  • No landings of anyone who did not launch from the site
  • Operating hours allowed from 7 a.m. to dusk
  • Operations limited to six days per week, including only one weekend day
  • A requirement for operators to maintain a minimum height of 400 feet over adjacent properties, except during launch, landing and necessary circling.

The permit for this use will expire in 10 years, unless applicants submit a request in writing for the county to consider an extension.

Published January 16, 2019

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