The applicant for a general commercial zoning says the intention is to develop a day care and a restaurant on an 8.39-acre site on Catfish Lake Road, north of off State Road 54, in Land O’ Lakes.
But the commercial zoning being sought would allow a broader range of uses, which prompted questions by members of the Pasco County Commission.
Area residents also brought forward their own concerns, based on a site plan submitted by EG3 Development.
Jason Glaser, representing the applicant, told the county board the intention is to develop a 12,000-square-foot day care, that would be a franchise, operated by a local Pasco resident.
A restaurant also is proposed at the front of the site, Glaser added.
The applicant submitted a site plan to show its intention, and revised it based on neighborhood feedback, Glaser said.
The original site plan had three buildings and two exits on Catfish Lake Road. The revised plan shows two buildings and one exit onto Catfish Lake Road.
The drop-off times at the proposed business are spaced out, based on the age of the children — so traffic backups wouldn’t occur, Glaser said.
Plus, he added that parents won’t be lined up in their cars.
“You have to physically park and walk your child into the property,” he explained.
Glaser said the project will be connected to a sewer system and stormwater retention will be provided.
“We do believe it is a use that will provide a benefit to the whole community,” Glaser said.
Some speakers who addressed the county board during the Dec. 6 public hearing said they don’t object to a day care because it would serve the community.
But they raised concerns about potential impacts.
Veronica Sanchez, of 2316 Reserve Court, Land O’ Lakes, put it this way: “Our community is not against rezoning. We’re very open to having a place for children.”
Their big concern is safety, she said.
“The first conceptual (site plan) was very concerning for us, because it was showing two entrances on the back side. We are much more comfortable with the new conceptual.
“We would like to request that that back entrance remain approximately 350 feet away from Camp Indianhead,” she added.
She also requested buffering between the new development and the existing neighborhood, to provide separation.
Plus, she asked that directional lighting be required to prevent “a big spotlight” going into people’s homes.
Other residents raised concerns about a lack of sidewalks and the difficulty of turning into the neighborhood from State Road 54, and getting out onto State Road 54, as well.
County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder said the site plan the applicant submitted is not binding.
The application is for a straight commercial Euclidean zoning, Steinsnyder said. That means, unlike master-plan unit developments or development agreements, the zoning doesn’t come with any additional restrictions.
So, anything allowed in the type of zoning being sought would be allowed on the parcel, provided it complies with provisions within the county’s land development code, Steinsnyder said.
Brad Tippin, the county’s development manager, reiterated that point. He told area residents that there’s no requirement that the applicant follow the site plan the neighborhood saw.
If the board wants to put limits on the types of uses, it can request the applicant to voluntarily comply to that through deed restrictions or a development agreement, Steinsnyder said.
Deed restrictions are used more commonly because the process is quicker and less expensive, said David Goldstein, chief assistant county attorney.
Commission Chairman Jack Mariano told the applicant: “The people are bringing up a lot of good points.”
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey told area residents: “Anytime you have commercial up against residential we have a buffer requirement, so those would kick in.
“We already have a dark sky lighting ordinance. Any lighting has to go down and can’t spill onto your property.
“I think a day care is a great use here,” she added.
But Starkey said: “I worry about fast-food. That’s the only thing I worry about coming in there because it just generates so much traffic.”
Mariano asked Glaser if he would agree to delaying the request to allow him to add deed restrictions.
Glaser asked if the delay was for the zoning, or for the deed restrictions.
Steinsnyder said the delay was to enable Glaser to pursue deed restrictions, which the board indicated would be needed to gain its approval.
Goldstein noted that the board had made it clear it doesn’t want to see a fast-food restaurant on the site.
“Unless there’s a deed restriction, you can put a Chick-fil-A there,” Goldstein said.
Glaser agreed to a delay.
The board delayed the request until its Jan. 24 meeting.
Published December 28, 2022