The Pasco County Commission is expected to discuss a proposed amendment to a development agreement involving a 108-home subdivision planned in Land O’ Lakes.
The development plans call for the housing development to be built on 50 acres on the south side of Bexley Road, about a mile west of the intersection of U.S. 41 and Wisteria Loop.
Board members continued the request during their Dec. 5 meeting, after Commissioner Kathryn Starkey refused to agree to proposed changes involving a trail near the project.
County planner William Vermillion told the board that a modification is needed because at the time when the development agreement was approved, it wasn’t yet known whether the trail was feasible because the engineering work had not yet been completed.
Since then, Vermillion said, it has been determined that the original plan can’t be pursued because of insufficient right of way.
“So, board members, we had quite a few meetings on this and I went out there with our county engineers and their engineers and Ray Gadd (an area resident),” Starkey said.
Chris Nocco, Jeremy Crouch and Gadd had appeared before the board at a public hearing when the rezoning was being discussed, pointing out issues regarding the need for a better road network before the request should be approved.
Starkey noted: “Part of this road is designed as an urban section and part of this road is a rural section. The multi-use trail is supposed to be on the north side of the road.”
She said an adjacent master-planned development had pledged to donate land to the county, which provided plenty of room for a multi-use trail, a trailhead and even a park.
“So, where is that land donation?” Starkey asked.
“If I’m hearing you right, we’re just getting little bits and pieces of the multi-use trail?
“And that was how this neighborhood was going to be able to get out on this trail,” Starkey said.
Vermillion responded: “Unfortunately they just don’t own or control any of the land.”
Starkey: “But we do because that was given to us. Where’s the bottom piece along Wisteria that was given to the county?”
Shelly Johnson, attorney representing the Renner developer, told Starkey that the engineers went and looked at it and discovered that the right of way is insufficient.
She said they have consulted with Gadd and Crouch and they don’t have objections with the current plan and she said she thinks Nocco is aware of it.
“Everybody has met out there and they discussed exactly what we’re proposing in these exhibits … And, everybody is in agreement with the changes,” she said.
The county’s staff also recommended approval.
But Starkey wouldn’t budge.
“Someone has dropped the ball on this because there’s plenty of room for a multi-use trail to go on that piece of land,” Starkey said.
Johnson responded: “As of right now, there’s not.”
Starkey: “No. There’s acres and acres. That piece was given to us, or pledged to us … I am 100% positive that they (nearby master-planned development) said that we could have that piece. So, I’m not buying that we can’t put the trail there. So, this is going to have to be continued. I won’t go for that one, when we have plenty of room for the trail.”
Johnson told Starkey: “We’ll be happy to go back and look at it. But I’m being told there’s insufficient right of way, currently. My understanding is the area you’re looking at now is being used for their stormwater, so what they gave us is what they could give us and there’s not any additional right of way there.”
The attorney also noted that the developer of the other master-planned development agreed to work with her client as a condition of their approval, but it did not result in sufficient land being provided for the trail.
Starkey responded: “Well, there’s a problem if they didn’t give us enough to fit the trail. We’re going to have to dig into this a little bit more. This is really important for that community because there’s no room on that road, and that’s going to be a busy road to ride anywhere. And, this is how they’re going to get over to the Orange Belt Trail.
“It was a whole condition of approval for me.”
“I went out there and met with Jeremy and Ray and our engineering staff and their engineers and we walked it. There was plenty of room for the multi-use path and it didn’t have to be smushed up against the road.
“So, something has happened here,” Starkey said.
”I agree with Commissioner Starkey 100%. It shouldn’t be a problem and if that means we’ve got to bring the other developer in to have that conversation with them, it’s going to have to be our staff that’s going to have to lead that conversation,” said Commissioner Jack Mariano.
Starkey declared: “We can play the tape. We can roll back the tape.”
The request has been continued to the board’s Jan. 23 meeting.
Published December 27, 2023