Pasco eyeing big changes to apartment mobility fees

The Pasco County Commission has signaled it wants to end mobility fee incentives that it provides for new market-rate apartment construction within the county.

At the same time, commissioners are looking to waive mobility fees for builders of affordable housing — homes or apartments.

Commissioners also are eyeing a mobility fee waiver aimed to spur new construction in an area along U.S. 19, in West Pasco.

This apartment development, near Wesley Chapel Boulevard and State Road 56, is among many complexes built in Pasco County during recent years. The Pasco County Commission wants to take away its mobility fee incentive for new market-rate apartment developments. (File)

Transportation mobility fees are the charges that accompany new construction, with the intent of addressing the impacts that the new building causes on nearby transportation systems.

Pasco has used mobility fee incentives to encourage various types of construction, including apartments.

But, at a Feb. 25 workshop, commissioners indicated they want change —  and county staff indicated it will begin laying the groundwork to arrange public hearings on the issue.

Commissioners cannot take votes during workshops, and no public testimony is allowed.

While no public comment was taken, the proposed changes likely will draw considerable interest from apartment developers and their representatives.

Numerous high-end apartments have been built or approved along the State Road 54/State Road 56 corridor in recent years — drawing the ire of Commission Chairman Mike Moore.

He voiced his displeasure, again, during the board’s workshop.

“If you look at surrounding areas, i.e. Hillsborough County, what they’ve done — i.e., Brandon — that’s what you’re turning my district into, on 54/56.

“We’re oversaturating this one area,” he said. “The people that live there can’t stand it.

“We’ve turned 54/56 into apartment row. That’s what it looks like. It’s ugly. It’s disgusting. It’s bad development. It’s bad for the future. It’s bad for this county. It looks ridiculous,” he said.

“You’re taking 54/56 frontage — that’s not what it should be. If anything, it should be employment sites,” Moore said.

He’s also concerned about long-term impacts.

“People are going to pay for it, 10 or 15, 20  years down the road. Our future commissioners are going to pay for it when you have all of these dilapidated old buildings that are going to be standing on 54/56 because we can’t keep up.”

Moore said he doubts the removal of incentives will stop apartment development in Pasco.

Pasco County Chairman Mike Moore has been a vocal critic of apartment development along the State Road 54/State Road 56 corridor. (File)

“Why in the world are we incentivizing them? You can call it a subsidy all you want. It’s free cash,” Moore said.

Although the discussion of dropping the incentives began with discussion of apartment development along the 54/56 corridor in urban service area, County Administrator Dan Biles asked commissioners if they also wanted to end the incentives in the rural and suburban zones, as well as the urban zone.

They indicated they do.

Meanwhile, in a separate presentation on affordable housing during the same workshop, commissioners were asked to consider granting mobility fee waivers for construction of affordable apartments and homes.

Board members indicated they would support that request.

Commissioner Jack Mariano also asked if the county could waive a 25% mobility fee for construction on vacant land in an area of West Pasco that needs an economic boost.

Commissioner Kathryn Starkey also called for the county to do more to spur development in that area, noting efforts to date have not been effective.

County staff said the additional revenues from ending the multi-family incentives would generate enough to cover waiving mobility fees for new affordable housing and for waiving the 25% fee on the development vacant land in the specified area of West Pasco.

The proposed changes will be prepared for consideration by the Pasco County Planning Commission, which will make a recommendation to the board.

The Pasco County Commission then will take final action on the issue during a public hearing.

Any changes would likely take at least 90 days to go into effect.

Published March 4, 2020

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