Report sheds light on Dade City economy

An economic development report shows how the City of Dade City is faring through the first quarter of the 2019-2020 fiscal year — in other words, from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31.

Dade City’s new community and economic development director, Melanie Romagnoli, presented the quarterly report to city commissioners at a regular meeting on Jan. 16.

Romagnoli, who assumed the position late last year, first unveiled a portion of the city’s current demographics — some of which may come as a surprise to the small town community.

Dade City community and economic development director Melanie Romagnoli recently briefed city commissioners on the first quarter of fiscal year 2019-2020. (Courtesy of Melanie Romagnoli)

The city has actually positioned itself as a younger market, she said, with a median age of 35.5 years old, according U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey findings.

The findings show more beginning householders and newer marriages are settling in the city limits.

“The young ones are taking over,” Romagnoli quipped to commissioners.

Of the city’s roughly 2,600 residential households, traditional living makes up the dominant tapestry segment, encompassing a mix of married couple families and singles. The next largest segment is the senior or elderly population.

The city’s median household income is $40,000, with primary employment in the manufacturing, retail trade and health care sectors.

The report also states that generally two generations have lived and worked in the community, and their children are likely to follow suit.

Romagnoli shared other various development figures in the new fiscal year.

The city staffer said there were 475 total permits and 477 building inspections in the first three months, equating to roughly $156 million in improvements, upgrades and so on.

She explained a majority of those permits were related to new single-family homes, apartments and commercial buildings, followed by various renovations to properties in the form of new roofs, new air conditioning units, garage doors and other improvements.

Romagnoli also noted that the city experienced 102 new code enforcement cases in the first quarter. Of those, 59 have already achieved compliance. Eight required liens from the city for the mowing of overgrowth. The remaining 35 cases are still open, undergoing due process and re-inspections.

Meantime, she said the city’s planning and zoning department has been “fully loaded” with work orders — anything that requires comprehensive plan amendments, zoning amendments and annexations.

The department underwent 116 site plan approvals/reviews and two land use variances. It also  sent out 238 zoning determination calls/letters during the last three months.

The department also completed 31 pre-application redevelopment meetings with various developers.

Online permitting is expected to become available sometime this quarter, Romagnoli said.

There also will be an online GIS map system available for public viewing of parcels and properties in the city limits.

And, the economic development director mentioned two new city planners were recently added to the department. Sarah Rader, a Planner I, is updating the city’s future land use maps and filing system. Sam Mirza, a Planner II, has assumed planning commission duties, as well as anything related to site plan, long-range and current planning.

Romagnoli also outlined some of her initiatives for the rest of the year.

She told commissioners that she plans to have more focused and proactive code enforcement efforts, particularly getting a handle on illegal dumping areas and abandoned/junk vehicles.

She said those are “two particular issues we have throughout the city.”

She continued: “We’re trying to get some of the concerns addressed by the neighborhoods.”

She has ideas for sprucing up downtown, too.

She hopes to upgrade downtown lighting and kiosks, establish a downtown landscaping plan in collaboration with the Dade City Garden Club, and develop a public art mural standards and application process.

She’s also interested in creating a prospectus for the city’s CRA (Community Redevelopment Area) district that would include property valuations, areas of focus and marketing material, in partnership with local realtors and building owners.

Other large-scale projects Romagnoli plans to focus on include:

  • Contracting a visitor’s information center at the Hardy Trail
  • Updating the city’s comprehensive plan
  • Finalizing and completing enclave annexations
  • Developing a city destination marketing plan with involvement from local merchants and stakeholders

Published January 22, 2020

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