Earlier this year, a developer agreed to build a road in a Land O’ Lakes neighborhood, to help handle area traffic.
The agreement regarding the road — which came after considerable discussion and compromise — was added as a condition for a rezoning to allow a 108 single-family subdivision on 50.5 acres, on the south side of Bexley Road, about a mile west of the intersection of U.S. 41 and Wisteria Loop.
As part of the conditions for approval, the county staff agreed that the developer could receive up to 66 certificates of occupancy before having to make roadway improvements.
No additional certificates of occupancy will be granted before the improvements are made.
Now, some residents on Wisteria Loop are asking the county to figure out a way to build a sidewalk on Wisteria Loop, to link it to a planned sidewalk to the west.
Jeremy Couch, who lives on Wisteria Loop, appeared before the Pasco County Commission on Sept. 22, asking the board to require the sidewalk, as part of the proposed development agreement between the developer and the county.
“I’m not here in opposition.
“I’m here because I live on this street and how it is built is important to me, especially since the county is giving mobility fee credits.
“I’m very happy that the road is going to get fixed. It’s nice.
“My issue is what we’re building. So, we’re building this really big typical section. We’re leaving huge gaps in the sidewalk. The applicant is not required in the code to build a sidewalk along a substandard portion.
“On( U.S.) 41, there’s a multi-use path and a sidewalk. Then you have 1,000 feet across two parcels that has no sidewalk.
“A lot of kids use this to ride their bikes and go to Land O’ Lakes High, which is right there.
“Then in front of Arden Preserve, you have a 5-foot sidewalk.
“And then, as proposed in front of my house, for another 1,000 feet, you have no sidewalk. “And then, when you get down west of me, 1,000 feet, in the middle of nowhere you’ve got bike lanes, a multi-use path, a sidewalk and everything.
“I understand that the typical section shows bike lanes. But when you have bike lanes, a multi-use path, that’s completely redundant. It seems to me like the bike lanes should go away,” he said.
Instead of building the bike lane, Couch suggested allowing the applicant to build an off-site sidewalk and be granted mobility credits.
Planning board member Jon Moody saw Couch’s point.
“I’d rather have that pavement added to the multi-use path, or the wider sidewalk. There’s no need to pave 10 feet of extra roadway, when that’s not an 8-foot multi-use path, that’s a 12-foot multi-use path.”
But Deputy Chief County Attorney David Goldstein said: “To a certain extent, bike lanes probably shouldn’t be viewed (as) bike lanes. I think the engineers view them as effectively being a breakdown lane.
“Any road needs some area of shoulder, breakdown area, that can be used so people aren’t breaking down in the middle of the street,” the attorney said.
So, while it is called a bike lane, it’s not functioning only as a bike lane, Goldstein said.
“You’ve got to remember that, when you start getting rid of bike lanes,” he added.
At the same time, the idea of granting mobility fee credits for an off-site improvement can be considered, Goldstein said.
“It is a legitimate request, but I don’t know if anybody has looked at whether there’s sufficient right of way, sufficient drainage capacity,” Goldstein added.
Attorney Shelley Johnson, representing the applicant, said more research is needed to see if a sidewalk could be achieved there, but added that her client is willing to consider the possibility of building the sidewalk in exchange for mobility fee credits.
Ray Gadd, who also lives on Wisteria Loop, said Couch’s idea has merit.
“I’m an avid cyclist. I would never use a bike lane on a road that has a multi-use trail,” Gadd said.
He also submitted a drawing for the county to consider regarding a potential improvement.
The planning board recommended approval of the proposed development agreement, with the issue of the potential sidewalk not yet resolved.
Johnson told the planning board her client will look into the issue before the proposed development agreement reaches the Pasco County Commission, which has final jurisdiction over land use and zoning issues.
Published October 12, 2022
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