This coming year is expected to be busy for the county’s planners and its consultants, as efforts rev up to finalize the data set and proposed policies to guide Pasco’s growth through the year 2050.
The comprehensive plan is the long-range vision of the county.
The planning document is required by Florida statute, and state law also requires it to be updated.
The comprehensive plan provides a vision and policies that influence future planning decisions and affects economic development, transportation, parks, natural resources and other aspects of life within the county.
Pasco is in Year Four of a five-year planning effort, which has involved soliciting feedback from the public and getting input from technical advisory groups, interested stakeholders and elected officials, too.
Those groups have helped to formulate a vision for the county’s future, have identified issues and suggested strategies.
“Year Four is going to be all about writing the plan, or the plan update, I should say,” said Nectarios Pittos, the county’s director of planning and development.
Within the next 12 months, consultants will finalize data sets to help set the course for the plan. The information that will be used to work out the details will include population projects, current levels of public services and discussions over whether levels of services should change, based on the plan’s vision.
Chris Dougherty, project manager with the county’s consultants, Inspire Placemaking Collective, outlined activities that are scheduled for 2024, as the planning work continues.
The consulting company, based in Orlando, along with county planners, will continue to engage with groups interested in taking part in the process. They also will work internally with Pasco County departments.
“So, whether it’s the MPO (Pasco Metropolitan Planning Organization), or the (Pasco County) strategic planning process, or the utility master planning process — we’re continuing to coordinate with those teams on a continuing basis,” Dougherty said.
2050 plan will have revised maps
“We’ll be updating your map series,” he added.
“That’s another part of that comprehensive plan that gets adopted as part of those goals, objectives and policies to your future land use map,” he explained.
“You have a wetlands map, floodplain — those are all maps that need to be adopted, as well, so, we’ll be updating those as part of this process.
“When we get about three-quarters through the year, we’ll have recommendations for specific changes to the plan. We’re going to present those to you all, when we have them ready,” he told the county board, during a discussion on Oct. 24.
At the end of 2024, the consultants will be done with its recommendations and the final stages of the plan update will begin.
In Year Five, work will involve updating maps and policies.
“We address multiple topics in the comprehensive plan, whether it’s housing, transportation, conservation and recreation and open space. So, it’s a broad document. It touches on a lot of different items,” Dougherty said.
The plan’s vision, derived from community engagement efforts, will be the beacon guiding the process for writing the plan, he said.
“We really had a lot of amazing conversations,” Dougherty said, describing the community engagement efforts.
Conversations that occurred at community meetings, in stakeholder sessions and with members of elected and advisory boards have generated lists of priorities and strategies.
Distinct vision themes emerged for a vision of Pasco in 2050.
Those themes describe Pasco as a county that:
— Has walkable and vibrant neighborhoods that are well-connected, well-designed and aesthetically pleasing
— Values its beautiful landscape and fiercely protects the natural environment
— Provides an adequate supply of housing for all income levels and life stages
— Preserves its natural resources
— Has increased its transportation efficiency
— Protects its rural lands and character
— Expands its parks systems
— Strengthens its resiliency
Some strategies that have been suggested include:
— Require stronger tree preservation regulations for new development
— Cultivate and preserve wildlife corridors through the county’s Environmental Lands and Acquisition Management Program (ELAMP)
— Ensure the protection of aquifer recharge from new and existing development
— Expand efforts to monitor, protect and increase the county’s water supply
Planning for growth, not just reacting to it
Dougherty told commissioners: “The nice thing about this is that we can be proactive about growth, rather than reactive. So we can develop those goals, objectives and policies to help us provide you guidance down the road.”
The work to be done will result in two volumes, one relating to data and analysis and the other resulting in goals, objectives and policies, he said.
The goals, objectives and policies are “where the rubber meets the road,” he added.
In Year Five, “we’re going to share what we came up with and have folks give us their ideas and thoughts about the changes that we propose.”
No doubt the county board will be discussing big-picture issues such as future development plans for Lacoochee; taking a closer look at the special planning districts of the Villages of Pasadena Hills and Connected City; and how the county will preserve industrial lands to generate jobs.
They also are likely to tackle challenges such as improving transportation, protecting the environment and expanding recreational opportunities.
Plus, they are likely to consider using planning tools to promote the development of communities that feature easy ways to get from place to place, without driving.
To keep abreast of the planning efforts, visit Pasco2050.com.
Published January 03, 2024