On the one hand, motorists benefit when there’s more than one way to get through an area.
On the other, creating roadway connections between new developments and existing neighborhoods can cause disruptions to the peace and quiet of residential life.
That’s the gist of a discussion that came up during the Sept. 21 Pasco County Planning Commission meeting when an applicant was seeking a waiver from a county requirement that calls for creating connection from new developments, on all four sides of the property.
The discussion came up during the review of an application from Mary Burke and Thomas Schrader to allow up to 625 multi-family units and 106,686 square feet of commercial uses on 57.49 acres, north of County Road 52 and east of Interstate 75.
The land is part of Connected City, a sizable area that was designated years ago for a greater intensity of development, job creation, high speed internet and good connections within the area, either through golf cart paths, roads or both.
The applicants sought permission to eliminate required connections on the west and on the east.
County staff agreed to the waiver on the west side of the property because there’s a Category 3 wetland and a self-story business that would impede connecting there.
But county planners rejected the request for the waiver to the east.
They determined that an interconnection to the east is feasible at Oak Street and Florida Avenue.
Christie Barreiro, of Heidt Design, represented the applicants during the public hearing.
She told the planning board that her client is proposing three access points into the project, two from County Road 52 and another one at a new vision road being built through Connected City.
“We feel that we have those three access roads, one to the east isn’t necessary for development,” she said.
She also noted that providing the connection suggested by county staff could create a cut-through issue for the residential areas on Oak Street and Florida Avenue, in San Antonio.
“Oak Street is the north-south street and Florida Avenue is the east-west,” she said, noting both streets are maintained by the City of San Antonio.
“There are eight single-family homes on Oak Street.
“There are eight additional parcels on the north side of Florida Avenue, not all of them have homes on them. The south side of Florida Avenue has two property owners, multiple parcels but only two property owners,” she said.
She said her clients believe that full access on Oak Street would not be welcomed by the nearby residents in San Antonio.
She also noted that the roads are not currently up to county standards and requiring her clients to bring one of those roads up to county standards would be an undue burden.
County Attorney David Goldstein asked Barreiro: “Why not connect to the northeast?”
She responded that could be a possibility.
Goldstein said if that occurs, no waiver would be needed.
Brad Tippin, the county’s development manager, said county staff was attempting to create a way to create access to Curley Street.
But Goldstein replied: “It seems to me that it would be more important to be able to connect to property within Connected City. Connected City was given that name for many reasons. Part of it was interconnectivity. I’m not sure why we’re not connecting to other property in Connected City.”
Planning board member Jon Moody said he understands that establishing connections between developments is a high priority with at least one Pasco County commissioner, and possibly others, as well.
But Moody noted forcing such connections can have negative consequences in established neighborhoods.
He said he understands the general need for requiring interconnectivity, but he added, individual situations must be considered.
“I’ll point to a couple of examples where an interconnect has destroyed a neighborhood,” Moody said.
“Fox Hollow Drive, between U.S. 19 and Little Road. You took a wonderful, quiet street and have turned it into a cut-through that’s a de facto highway. I would never walk on one of the sidewalks along Fox Hollow Drive. That would be taking your life into your hands. And, if I had children, I could never live along Fox Hollow Drive.
“Jasmine (road), same thing. We took a street, we cut it from U.S. 19 to Little Road. We have interconnection and now we made it miserable for residents who live along that road.
“Connections can be good, but we can’t do them at the expense of a neighborhood.”
Moody added that he appreciates the applicant’s respect for existing residents.
“Sometimes we have to apply some common sense to some of this.
“All interconnects are not the same. They’re not one size-fits-all. And, we can’t destroy a neighborhood for the sake of providing an interconnection. We have to look to make sure it’s a responsible interconnection,” Moody said.
Planning board member Jaime Girardi made the motion for approval, which the planning board supported. The approved motion does not require the connection to the east to the residential streets in San Antonio that had been suggested by county staff.
The request now goes to the Pasco County Commission for final action.
Published October 04, 2023