Planning Commission recommends against rezoning

The Pasco County Planning Commission has recommended denial of a request that would allow a small subdivision off of Bell Lake Road, in Land O’ Lakes.

The rezoning application, filed by Michael David Vincent, sought to change the allowable density of development on about 9.5 acres, at the northwest corner of the intersection of Bell Lake Road and Alpine Road. The site is about 1 mile east of U.S. 41.

Planning commissioners recommended denial, despite a recommendation for approval from the county’s planning staff.

Todd Pressman, a consultant representing the applicant, said the rezoning would allow a maximum of 32 single-family dwellings on the property. But, he said the target number of houses for the site would be 27.

Pressman also said the zoning would allow a minimum lot width of 35 feet, but that the target width would be 40 feet.

Pressman said the request would yield about four houses per acre, in an area where the county’s long-range planning designation allows up to six houses per acre.

And, the consultant cited policies within the county’s comprehensive plan that call for infill development, encourage a range of housing types and support workforce housing.

“We believe this is a very good request. It will be a very nice little subdivision addition to Pasco County,” Pressman said.

However, two neighbors of the proposed rezoning urged planning commissioners to reject the request.

“The main concern is the size of the lots,” said Troy Gotschall, who lives on Ladera Lane. He noted that most of the lots in the area “are at least a half-acre in size.”

Gotschall is also concerned about “just the look and feel changing drastically from the rural area where we’ve lived for the last 20 years.”

Another neighbor, Dave Hodierne, another Ladera Lane resident, raised concerns about the potential for the new development to be rental homes. He said he’s worried about the potential negative impact that could have on the value of his home.

Hodierne also noted that traffic to the new development, using Alpine Road, would create problems because Alpine Road is narrow.

Chief Assistant County Attorney David Goldstein informed commissioners that one of the conditions for approval requires that Alpine Road be improved to county standards, from Bell Lake to the entrance of the new subdivision.

Pressman told commissioners that the development is envisioned to be rental homes for families. He wasn’t sure of the anticipated square footage, but offered the possibility of 2,000 square feet. He also said price points for the homes were estimated to range from $259,000 to $345,000.

Goldstein said the county does not regulate zoning based on whether a home would be owner-occupied or a rental property.

Planning Commissioner Jaime Girardi raised objections to the request based on its compatibility with surrounding development.

“I have a problem with these small lots,” he said.

Nectarious Pittos, the county’s director of planning and development, told planning commissioners: “It meets the density requirement” of the county’s comprehensive plan.

But, Goldstein told commissioners: “Nobody is entitled to the maximum the future land use plan allows.”

Planning Commissioner Peter Hanzel expressed concerns about the planned development.

“What’s the square footage? What’s it going to look like?”

Hanzel added: “I question whether it’s going to enhance that portion of Land O’ Lakes.”

Girardi also challenged Pressman’s description of the project meeting a policy goal of providing a variety of housing types.

“Why is this different than the other products that are being built up and down (State Road) 54? It sounds like what they’re building in every community,” Girardi asked.

On a motion by Hanzel, seconded by Girardi, planning commissioners voted to recommend denial of the request.

The Pasco County Commission has final jurisdiction on zoning and land use issues.

Published November 27, 2019

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