A proposed large-scale comprehensive plan amendment has been requested for Saddlebrook Resort, a place that helped put Wesley Chapel on the map.
The request calls for amending the county’s future land-use map on about 420.5 acres of land, south of State Road 54 and east of Service Road.
The property has an existing master-planned unit development (MPUD) — Saddlebrook Resort — which has existing entitlements, development and infrastructure.
But a substantial modification has been requested to add acreage to the existing MPUD and to convert one existing golf course and the driving range into commercial/retail, multifamily, single family, dorm rooms, clubhouse and restaurant uses, according to information contained in the Pasco County Planning Commission’s Sept. 22 agenda packet.
The Saddlebrook Resort currently contains a number of different uses including commercial/office, multi-family, single-family, recreational and hotel/convention center uses. The proposed use calls for converting the area which is the golf driving range into the town center for Saddlebrook, the background materials say.
But at the planning board’s Sept. 22 meeting, the request being considered was whether the proposed change to the land-use should be recommended for approval.
The request still must go through public hearings before the Pasco County Commission to change the long-range plan and to change the zoning to clear the way for the proposed plans.
The request had been on the planning board’s consent agenda — meaning it would be approved in a single action with other items, unless it was pulled.
Planning board member Jon Moody pulled the item for discussion.
He said he did that a matter of principal, reminding board members that he had previously expressed a concern about too many items being placed on the consent agenda, and noting it is not the role of the planning board to rubberstamp requests.
“The consent agenda is for the duplexes, Mrs. Jones’ variance for her shed, but not a large-scale comprehensive plan amendment,” Moody said.
“The second reason that I pulled this and want to discuss this has to do with public notice.
“Saddlebrook Golf Course — the proposal here is that we’re going to change the golf course to single-family homes, townhouses, multifamily dorms for a golf academy — and all of these things may be good things, and I’m not necessarily opposed to them.
“But I know this, if I bought a house in Saddlebrook on a golf course and paid $750,000 or a million dollars for that, my expectation is that’s a golf course.
“And, maybe I don’t have the right to have that expectation, but at least if someone is going to change it, they need to let me know what’s going on, so I can come out and exercise my right as a citizen, to speak for or against the proposal.
“So, that’s the issue and the reason that I brought it up,” Moody said.
Attorney Barbara Wilhite, representing the applicant, told the planning board: “Although the code only requires an ad, we did post three signs.”
She also noted: “My client has had communications with all five homeowner associations within Saddlebrook and made presentations to them.
“This is a pre-transmittal hearing. This is the only time that you’ll hear the comp plan amendment, but what you do is you recommend to the board.
“Then the board will have a transmittal hearing, where they send it to the state. We have an MPUD (master-planned unit development zoning request) pending, so it will be coming,” she said.
Under the MPUD requirement, letters must be sent to everyone.
Wilhite told the planning board that its vote on the request before it would merely get the process started.
The MPUD request will spell out the specifics, and when it comes back to the planning board it will be fully noticed, she said.
Moody reiterated the need to discuss projects, such as the Saddlebrook request.
“My concern is, when we put comprehensive plan amendments on the consent agenda, or we don’t hear the accompanying MPUD consecutively, we’re laying the groundwork for a legal argument in the future, if we want to deny the zoning, if they argue ‘Well, wait a minute, my MPUD is consistent with the comp plan amendment that you passed a month ago or two months ago.
“My particular concern in Saddlebrook is that a great number of the property owners, adjacent to the golf course, to which this comp plan amendment applies, live out of state, many of them live out of country, so they didn’t see the sign posted,” Moody added.
Moody said the county should require that written notices be sent to property owners whose rights could be affected by proposed land-use and zoning changes.
Denise Hernandez, the county’s zoning administrator, told Moody a proposed change to the county’s land development code will require that notices of proposed changes be mailed, posted and published.
She expects that proposal to be back before the planning board in coming months.
No one from the public spoke for or against the proposed Saddlebrook changes.
Published October 12, 2022