Pasco County Commissioners are eyeing the future and they want to make sure that the county’s burgeoning growth today doesn’t create a multitude of problems later.
County board members are pushing for tighter controls in residential development.
It’s not a new discussion, but two new members recently joined the board and they appear to be keenly interested in these issues.
During commissioner comments at the board’s Jan. 10 meeting, all five commissioners shared thoughts of how the county should proceed, as new residential zoning requests roll in.
Key desires board members expressed include:
- Eliminating 40-foot-wide and 50-foot-wide lots in new residential developments
- Requiring stronger development standards for Built-to-Rent housing communities
- Improving connectivity between neighborhoods
- Proving greater certainty about the county’s regulations and expectations
- Providing more visible public notice posting master-planned unit developments (MPUD) requests
Chairman Jack Mariano and Vice Chairman Ron Oakley don’t want to approve 40-foot-wide and 50-foot-wide lots in new residential developments.
They want yards to be large enough for kids to play and driveways to be long enough, to keep sidewalks clear.
Recently elected Commissioner Seth Weightman said the Build-to-Rent single-family housing communities should follow the same development regulations as new owner-occupied single-family subdivisions.
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey wants greater connectivity between neighborhoods.
More connections will provide more options, helping to alleviate congestion on major roads, she said.
She also wants more trails, to provide safe ways for people to get from place to place and to offer more recreational options.
Commissioner Gary Bradford wants the county to provide certainty to developers and residents about the county’s regulations and expectations.
Mariano is calling for larger, double-sided signs to alert the public to new MPUD requests. He also wants them to be posted in highly visible places.
The board chairman also wants county staff to hold applicants accountable, as they make their way through the county’s process.
“If you don’t have the paperwork (from the applicants) the way it’s supposed to be done, you put the brakes on until it’s done the way it’s supposed to be done. If it’s not done the right way, then it’s got to wait until it is done the right way, then it can proceed,” Mariano said.
The board’s discussion came during the board member comments’ portion of the meeting.
Weightman raised the issue involving standards for Build-to-Rent communities and Bradford asked what design standards are currently being used by county staff.
Nectarios Pittos, director of planning and development for the county, recapped the history of residential standards being applied to MPUDs.
“Last year, the board of county commissioners worked with the development community to craft a memo, a policy memo, that would direct staff to include conditions of approval within a master plan unit development zoning district that would regulate the appearance, or at least establish architectural monotony controls for single-family detached houses.
“This was particularly related to a case involving 40-foot-wide lots and also 50-foot-wide lots.
“Since March or April of last year, we’ve been implementing those conditions of approval in the MPUDs.
“Then, there was a discussion with the Aug. 24 board of county commissioners’ meeting, which I think was the first time the Built-to-Rent question rose from the (county board’s) dais. And, so, a similar draft memo has been worked on since then,” he said.
- Creates a definition of what constitutes Built-to-Rent
- Establishes similar architectural and monotony controls for that Built-to-Rent product. These standards include how these communities should be designed, what kind of landscaping is needed, parking standards and so on.
Pittos said that memo has been circulating with stakeholders since November.
“In various conversations we’ve had with developers, the question has been raised about the appearance of the Built-to-Rents and the general concerns, as Commissioner Starkey has noted — the tensions between parking and landscaping and these product types.
“And so, they have acquiesced to certain types of demands and/or cautionary statements from the planning and development department to change their products a little bit to make sure that what they build is not going to be monotonous or what they build is going to include a healthy amount of landscaping.
“However, there isn’t a clean directive to do that,” Pittos said.
Bradford said the sooner the county can get to a place of certainty, the better.
“The sooner we get this done, the better it’s going to be for our county. I think we really need to make this a priority,” Bradford said.
County Administrator Mike Carballa said county staff can work on that memo, with an aim of coming back to the board for further discussion at its first meeting in February.
It’s unclear, however, how soon the board will be pursuing changes, if any, to minimum lot sizes, length of driveways and other issues that were discussed.
It appears certain, however, that the board wants greater control over the appearance and livability of future residential developments.
“With two new commissioners, it’s time to say: OK, what do we want to see, for the long run?” Mariano said.
Published January 18, 2023
gordon greenlaw says
All these issues may be good to implement. But what about current problems? Overpass road and I-75 intersection for example, will be open soon. The school already creates substantial extra traffic. With the commercial construction already well under way in the industrial park between Old Pasco road and I-75; all of this is going to create a massive increase in traffic on that section of road. Where are we on widening this section from the school to Hwy 54/Wesley Chapel blvd? I see no activity, when will it start on a project that probably should have been begun at least a year ago? Why does Pasco seem to allow development first and then address the traffic later when it becomes a serios problem or someone is killed in an accident?