Pasco County Commissioner Ron Oakley wasn’t pleased with the way Nest Hockey Academy got its start in the district he oversees, but ultimately he made the motion to support the unique new school at 9175 McKendree Road, in Wesley Chapel.
Oakley complained that the initial approach used by the school to set up operations didn’t have adequate oversight by the county.
“The main issue with this project — is No. 1 — it was put in a residential area,” Oakley said.
The applicants built the academy, after receiving a special exception for a school. However, the use was restricted to no more than 20 people on the site.
County planners said the applicants, Russ and Leann Henderson, were informed they would need a master-planned unit development rezoning, in order to use the site for 150 students.
The Hendersons then filed an MPUD request.
Planners and the Pasco County Planning Commission recommended approval of the request.
Neighbors, however, raised objections.
John Parlapiano, who lives on McKendree Road, told the county board: “I’m not against them, but I’m for my quality of life.”
He also noted that he’s a retired law enforcement officer and has concerns about the potential impacts of allowing alcohol sales at the site — which could be a possibility in the future.
County planners said the academy is an appropriate use for the site because it’s in the business core of Connected City — an area expected to attract a considerable amount of growth and a mixture of uses.
About a dozen students from the academy, dressed nicely, sat politely in the audience, while the county board deliberated the request.
During the public comment portion, one student told the board that this academy goes beyond teaching math, science, reading and social studies, and helps to shape students into good people.
The student’s mom, speaking on behalf of parents who support the request, said the Hendersons are providing a unique opportunity and she asked for the board’s support.
Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey noted that the area where the academy will operate is in the midst of massive change.
In approving the request, the board also required the applicant to improve McKendree Road up to county standards, between the school and Tyndall Road.
The applicant also is required to provide right of way for a future vision road, known as Boyette Road.
Published June 14, 2023