As Pasco County’s largest municipality, the City of Zephyrhills has been experiencing rapid expansion. That’s why city officials already are working to try to stay ahead of area growth, which has doubled in the past 30 years.
During an Economic Summit at City Hall, City Planning Director Todd Vande Berg addressed previous, current and upcoming work in Zephyrhills.
The city planning director addressed how the city population more than doubled in a 30-year period, from 1990 to 2020.
The current population is estimated at slightly more than 18,000.
Zephyrhills also has expanded its city limits, especially in the north and to the west.
Abbot Square, the city’s largest new residential development, has more than 700 units. It’s just off Simons Road.
In total, the city has added 3,000 residential units, Vande Berg said, characterizing that as being “a lot for us, especially our community.”
The city’s residential growth is in keeping with a trend across both Pasco County and the state, the planning expert said.
Since 2010, Zephyrhills has seen a 61% increase in the total acreage of land of the city that is residential, with 2,995 acres dedicated to it.
To go along with the residential expansion, Vande Berg said 364,400 square feet has been added for industrial and commercial use.
That expansion includes new industrial spaces, expansion of Zephyrhills Municipal Airport and the development of the historic downtown area.
Downtown changes include new businesses and buildings. There are a number of other projects, too.
Significant roadway improvements, include:
- A roundabout at Wire and Pretty Pond roads
- A traffic signal at Simons Road and Eiland Boulevard
- An extended right-turn lane on Fort King Road and Eiland Boulevard
- Improvements to the intersection at County Road 54 and 12th Street, next to Zephyrhills High
- An extension of Dairy Road to Kossick Road
- An extension of Kossick Road to Wire Road
- An alignment of Simons Road
Vande Berg said other measures have been discussed, such as identifying traffic “hot spots,” an additional extension of State Road 56, and improvements to U.S. 301.
“We’re going to look at all the areas in the city that might be considered problematic and call them out, and address those with a solution, whatever that might be,” the planning director said.
The city also has allocated $1 million of the 2022-2023 budget to improve sidewalks. All new development and redevelopment projects are required to build sidewalks adjacent to their sites.
“This will provide a safer haven, a better environment for kids to get to school and onto better sidewalks,” Vande Berg said.
Meanwhile, the city continues to grow.
Its population is expected to exceed 22,600 by 2035.
To address that growth and its needs, the city is updating its Comprehensive Plan, which aims to chart a vision and set policies for future growth through 2035.
The city continues to accept public input, as it works on that plan.
It also is looking to “encourage smart growth,” which will concentrate on building within the city “compact, walkable urban areas to avoid sprawl,” Vande Berg said.
In essence, the city wants to encourage new development and redevelopment in downtown, rather than at its outer limits, he said.
“We can expand and develop what we have downtown and into the residential areas that are there, and that just makes the most financial sense,” Vande Berg said.
Some plans already have been identified, including The Back Yard, an open-air park at the southwest corner of Eighth Street and Sixth Avenue. It will feature covered seating under teepee-like structures, repurposed metal storage containers as vendor spaces, a stage, lighting, an event screen, plus service from food trucks.
That $250,000 project is tentatively expected to begin construction in late February 2023.
Other developments include more tennis courts at the tennis center, plus The Well, a 34,000-square-foot apartment development that can provide long-term housing for up to 90 students and families.
Other projects include a $5.4 million enhancement of Hercules Park, next to Woodland Elementary; additional expansion to the airport; a distillery being planned at an old bank on Gall Boulevard; and, more residential developments, with a variety of housing types.
“Avoiding overuse for residential land has to be key, with a better balance between that and commercial use for a sustainable economy,” Vande Berg concluded. “There is no magical formula, but it’s important not to get too oversaturated with residential.”
Published November 09, 2022