When the Pasco County Planning Commission considers a request, it needs to look at the issue from every side, board chairman Charles Grey said during a recent meeting.
“It’s a balancing act. You’ve got to balance the rights of a property owner with the rights and the expectations of the current citizens in the area. So, what we try to do is push and pull until we feel we have a reasonable balance in that area. It’s never going to be perfect,” Grey said, during a March 2 public hearing.
His remarks came during consideration of a request to allow a maximum of 162 townhomes, on a 40-acre site off Caroline Drive, in Wesley Chapel.
Attorney Barbara Wilhite, representing the applicant, said the request calls for 162 on land is designated on the long-range plan for up to 194 units.
The previous zoning allowed single-family detached residences; this one calls for townhomes, which essentially are attached residences, Wilhite said.
The site is within the county’s urban service area and the county has identified future “vision” roads in the area.
Vision roads are roads that are not yet part of any capital improvement plan, but are envisioned as being necessary to serve future growth.
Wilhite said there are two significant vision roads in the area, including a vision road that would extend Bruce B. Downs Boulevard through Wiregrass, Saddlebrook and north to Overpass Road.
The other vision road is an extension of Wells Road, Wilhite said.
“Because of these major roads, there will be higher density and intensity, as you approach these intersections,” Wilhite said.
She also noted there are some advantages of townhome development over detached single-family development.
“One of the benefits of the townhomes is that you have a central amenity,” she said. “By contrast, at individual residences, pools can be within 5 feet of the property line.”
Wilhite also noted: “Townhomes are commonly maintained. If you live in a townhome, you pay your HOA to maintain your roof, your paint, your shrubs, your grass and the landscaping in the common areas. In a single-family subdivision, you pay your HOA to chase your neighbor to try to get them to comply.”
She showed the planning board a visual of the proposed site plan.
“You see a lot of ponds on here because of the density. We have property. We’re able to cluster those townhomes and create a very nice living environment,” Wilhite said.
The attorney acknowledged that neighbors are concerned about additional traffic that will traveling down Caroline Drive, en route to State Road 54.
Several of those neighbors spoke during the public comment portion of the hearing, expressing concerns about traffic.
Others spoke about the incompatibility of a townhome community next to single-family homes, and others mentioned the potential loss of area wildlife and a concern about a potential increase in crime resulting from more people moving into the area.
The developer has agreed to pave Caroline Drive to Pasco County standards.
He also has agreed to install a sidewalk on one side of Caroline Drive.
That concession came after board chairman Grey asked if a sidewalk would be added on Caroline Drive, to address safety concerns.
“In order for me to feel comfortable about approving a new development, it needs to bring something to the existing area they don’t have. It can’t just take,” Grey said.
“If it doesn’t enhance the adjoining areas in some significant way, then why put it there? It’s not ready for it,” Grey said. “We’ve got to look out for our citizens.”
The developer also will do any necessary access management improvements that are required at State Road 54 and Caroline Drive.
Plus, there will be an emergency-access only gate at Tucker Road, but that designation could change in the future if Tucker Road is paved and the county’s future road network is established.
The developer also has agreed to construct a six-foot fence around the project, which will be gated.
The county’s planning staff recommended approval of the request and the planning board concurred, with the exception of Planning Commissioner Peter Hanzel, who voted no.
Hanzel said he would prefer the site be developed with larger, single-family homes.
Published March 22, 2023