The Pasco County Commission has approved a rezoning that will clear the way for Tampa Civil Design to build a new 10,000-square-foot office on about 8.5 acres, on North Dale Mabry Highway, about 1,900 feet north of the Hillsborough County line.
The action came after some area residents appeared before the county board, seeking assurances, on the public record that the new development would not be using a private road known as Preston Lane for access to the office, either during construction or after the building opens.
The county board’s action was in keeping with recommendations for approval by Pasco County planners and the Pasco County Planning Commission.
Jeremy Couch is the applicant on the request. He often appears before the county board in his professional capacity, on zoning issues.
His attorney, Barbara Wilhite, told board members that the application is a straight-forward request for an office in an area that’s been designated for retail, office and residential development.
She also noted its access is off of North Dale Mabry Highway.
But area residents wanted to be absolutely certain that the office won’t use the private road they live on.
John Calamari, who lives on Preston Lane, reiterated concerns he raised at the planning commission’s public hearing on the request.
He told the county board members: “I am a professional engineer. I’ve been licensed in multiple states for over 40 years and in the state of Florida since 1998. Prior to that, I was in construction. I’ve made my living that way for 50 years. I’m not opposed to construction and expansion. However, there are some items that need to be clarified.
“Mr. Couch just stated that he will not use Preston Lane for construction purposes, meaning as a haul road for heavy equipment and materials.
“However, he did not make it clear that it will not be used as a means of entry and exit for the occupants of his building, so that needs to be clarified.
“Secondly, it has been established that Preston Lane is a substandard drive.
“Preston Lane is only 10-feet wide.
“The paved surface does not allow passing of two vehicles. Somebody has to back down 500 feet, 900 feet, or they have to pull off on somebody’s driveway or a lawn. So, we would need to absolutely establish that it would not be used for vehicular traffic from the proposed office.”
Philip Passintino, another resident of Preston Lane, told commissioners: “We’re talking about protecting Preston Lane as a private road.”
He then showed board members a photo of a mail truck driving down the road, to help them visualize the road’s width.
“As you can see, a mail truck has to do a K-turn just to turn around to do the other side of the street.”
“Why do we care? Because we had to pay for a resurfacing awhile back for $35,000. We need to do that again. We were assessed $14,000 to make the corrections to Lake Como Drive, which is a feeder road to ours,” he said.
Area residents want to be sure that the road is protected.
They also wanted assurances that the buffering requirements will be met.
Wilhite assured the county board that her client will meet the county’s buffering requirements for the property.
Because of questions raised by the residents, Pasco County Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey asked: “Will the applicant be using a private road to access his property?”
Commissioner Ron Oakley added: “I had the same question.”
Couch responded: “I swear, occupants of the building will not use Preston Lane for ingress and egress. I’m going to fence it off. I have no interest in using Preston Lane for anything. I’m going to put a fence on the perimeter and there will be no access to Preston Lane.”
He also told the board that the property is on North Dale Mabry Highway and he wants his business to have a North Dale Mabry Highway address.
After the board approved the rezoning, Commissioner Mike Moore remarked: “It is great to see more office, and congratulations on expansion because that means another Pasco County business is doing awesome things.”
Published October 12, 2022