Pasco County is engaging in a process aimed at providing a cohesive approach to future development on about 81.5 acres at the southwest corner of Gunn Highway and County Road 54.
County planners began working about two years ago with a consultant to create what is now being called Odessa Town Centre.
The site is within Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey’s district and she advocated for a county-initiated land use change to try to prevent piecemeal development of the property.
The county board had been set to vote on transmitting the proposed plan to state agencies for review, during its Feb. 21 meeting. That action was delayed because the plan area had been expanded, requiring additional public notice before the board could consider the request.
The county board is now set to vote on the issue at its March 21 meeting, during its 1:30 p.m. session at the government center at 8731 Citizens Drive, in New Port Richey.
At the county board’s Feb. 21 meeting, Starkey provided background to her colleagues: “This is Gunn (Highway) and (State Road) 54, where the old flea market used to be.
“We were very worried that it was going to be piecemealed … People were swirling all around it, wanting to buy it.
“They all want to put (in) multi-family, and, there’s great job potential there, if we do it right,” Starkey said.
The Pasco County Planning Commission has already heard the issue and recommended unanimously to transmit the request for state review.
The proposed plan includes areas designated for light industrial, business park, mixed-use office and retail, and high-density residential.
Transmittal of the plan for state review is a preliminary step before it can come back before the county board for a final vote.
At the planning board’s meeting, Planning Commissioner Jon Moody said he wanted to make sure that none of the current property owners — regardless of how much land they own — get left behind.
David Goldstein, chief assistant county attorney, said a condition could be included in the comprehensive plan’s sub-area policies, to ensure that property owners within the area would be able to pursue a master-plan development, regardless of property size.
The plan doesn’t preclude current property owners from continuing their current use, or pursuing another one that’s within their current zoning.
If they wish to rezone, however, they would be subject to the rules of the new Odessa Town Centre plan.
Nectarios Pittos said a primary aim of the Odessa Town Centre plan is to designate land that would be appropriate for job-generating uses.
Attorney Joel Tew, who represents a mixed-use developer from Miami, said his client is currently seeking an MPUD to develop about 20 acres on the western portion of the Odessa Town Centre area.
His client embraces the need for a master plan for the area, Tew said.
“We think it’s a great vision. It’s a great plan.
Gerald Speer, who lives on Blissfield Road, said he’s one of the “small guys” within the proposed Odessa Town Centre.
“I have one-third acre. I have the smallest amount of property of the 27 people that’s in this. I am the one who’s going to suffer badly,” Speer said.
If Blissfield is widened, as shown on the conceptual plan, Speer said when he steps out his front door, he’ll be stepping into the street.
“My house is 1,800 square feet and there’s nowhere else in this town where I could move that I would like better than where I am now. Where I’m at now, I’ve got hospitals, I’ve got grocery stores, I’ve got everything.
“I’m almost 70 years old, and I’m kind of stuck, because it’s going to be very hard for me to move.”
Speer said he’s already dealt with dirt being kicked up into his house from nearby construction activity and that he’s seen traffic increase substantially on Old Gunn Highway.
“The road is terribly overburdened, and wait until they build the Lowe’s (which is going on the old flea market site). It’s going to be even worse,” he said.
“What have I got to look forward to? Where am I going to find an 1,800-square-foot house?
“I’m going to lose this. I know I’m going to lose this,” he said.
Virginia Loe has property on Interlaken Road, sought assurances that she’ll be able to continue with her plan to have a log cabin on her land.
Planning Commission Chairman Charles Grey said the proposed land use change would not force her to change her plans.
“You can still use the property,” Grey said. “You’re not compelled to do a commercial or industrial use there. You can do what you had planned.”
Moody responded to Speer’s comments.
“I understand. I’ve been here since I was 6 years old,” Moody said. “The corner of Gunn (Highway) and Highway 54 (State Road 54) — it was cows. But that’s not what it is today.
“I’ve been here 50-plus years, too.
“State Road) 54 is not what (State Road) 54 was when I was a child.
“There’s nothing we’re going to do to stop this, and I’d rather have a good plan and a cohesive plan rather than for us to repeat some of the sins of the past that happened along U.S. 19, along the west side of the county.
“In this one, I’ve got to give credit where credit is due, this is some good planning,” Moody said.
Published March 08, 2023