While a development review committee headed by Pasco County administrator Michele Baker was focused on how fast boats should travel on a private lake, Bobbi Smith had a much bigger concern about a proposed new community near Caliente Resorts in Land O’ Lakes.
“The thing is truly the safety issue of getting in and getting out,” said Smith, who lives on a small rural road just off U.S. 41 in the community of Silver Lakes. That street, barely wide enough to hold a single car, could carry traffic from another 100 houses if Southern Crafted Homes is allowed to build on more than 68 acres around Curve Lake.
The land is owned by John and Theresa Edwards, and is filled with old orange groves at the gravel end of Fletch Road. About 40 homes are currently located near the lake on Fletch and Barcellona roads, which all exit to a busy, four-lane Land O’ Lakes Boulevard. And even with the smaller number of homes, there’s no traffic light, so cars typically back up on Barcellona as traffic looks to get out on the busy thoroughfare.
“There’s no way you can have all those homes, and have just one road to get out,” Smith said.
But if Southern Crafted Homes is going to build homes, they’ll also have to build upgraded streets along Fletch and Barcellona that will accommodate higher traffic loads, Baker said during a recent development review meeting. Upgrades would include two distinct lanes of traffic, and even curbs.
The new community also could be required to consider building roads across neighboring properties, known as interconnects, which would link the new Edwards community to Caliente Boulevard to the northwest and Ehren Cutoff to the east. However, those roads won’t happen until neighboring parcels are developed into homes, and Smith and others already living in Silver Lakes say that development there could be decades off, if ever.
That brings the focus back to Fletch Road, which was partially paved in the late 1990s when the Silver Lakes community was built. A traffic analysis says Fletch is in good shape, county officials said, so Southern Crafted wouldn’t have to do anything with the paved portion of the road.
Baker, however, was concerned that a 15-year-old road shouldn’t be ignored in an upgrade, especially if traffic is going to increase significantly on it.
“That is going to be their only access point,” Baker said during the development review meeting.
When the road does require repaving, Silver Lakes residents would have to carry the cost burden and not the new community, she added.
Southern Crafted already would be responsible for upgrading roads at no cost to the existing residents, so they would pay their fair share, assistant county attorney David Goldstein said.
The development is “paying to bring the entire road” up to standards, he said. Silver Lakes residents are “getting a new road basically for free from these people, so why should they have to pay more in the future when they are paying to upgrade it now?”
How that would be resolved will have to wait until the next step in the review process, however. Baker and the rest of her development review committee agreed to pass that issue to the construction plan review committee, which would consider the proposal if the county commission approves rezoning to allow the new community.
Smith, who attended the meeting, said she’ll be back to address her traffic concerns again.
“The community has a right to safety and transportation in and out, otherwise none of this would be a big deal,” Smith said. “Everyone has the right to build, but we also have a right to come and go safely.”
Published May 14, 2014
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