Higher density approved near Town of St. Leo

The Pasco County Commission has approved a land use change and rezoning to allow increased development at the edge of the Town of St. Leo, despite the Town’s objections.

The approved rezoning allows up to 600 dwellings, 340,000 square feet of commercial and 60,000 square feet of office on 177 acres at the southwest corner of State Road 52 and Prospect Road. Under the approved land use change, up to 300 additional dwellings would be allowed.

A barn now occupies the site.

The Town of St. Leo abuts the northwest portion of the property, and the site is surrounded by the Villages of Pasadena Hills Special Area Plan area.

County planners and the Pasco County Planning Commission recommended approval on the requests for the land use and zoning changes.

But, the Town of St. Leo, represented by attorney Patricia A. Petruff, objected to the rezoning.

She said the requested density is incompatible with St. Leo’s character. She raised concerns about disrupting the view shed that residents in the town now enjoy.

“We had asked for some of those homes to be single-story. We had asked for enhanced landscaping,” Petruff said. “We don’t think the transitions are appropriate or adequate.”

She also said: “You are required to address visual intrusion.”

Planners and representatives for the applicant, however, said the proposed development is an appropriate transition between the Villages of Pasadena Hills and the Town of St. Leo.

Attorney Barbara Wilhite and planning consultant Matt Armstrong represented the applicant.

The new State Road 52 alignment goes through the property, and increased demand for development in the area is expected.

The plan calls for the main access to the property to be off of Prospect Road, south of the intersection of State Road 52, which is an existing signalized intersection.

Wilhite and Armstrong said the project will provide residential and non-residential options for services for students near campus. They also noted that conditions of approval for the project go well beyond the county’s land development code.

“We have brought forward a project that is the right project for this area, and does respect the area,” Wilhite said.

But, Petruff urged commissioners: “We’re respectfully requesting that you table this and direct staff to take another look at those transitions.”

Commissioner Mike Moore observed that aside from the Town’s attorney, no one else spoke in opposition. He made a motion to approve the request.

Commissioner Kathryn Starkey also noted that Saint Leo University is nearby.

“You’ve got a university that has a lot of density right there,” she said, before commissioners voted to approve the rezoning. The comprehensive plan amendment had been previously approved, in a separate vote.

Published November 20, 2019

Comments

  1. Bad ides. The beginning of the destruction of a lovely rural town and area.

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