It’s no secret that Pasco County residents want a better system to inform them of requested land use and zoning changes.
The issue comes up repeatedly, and did so again at the Dec. 7 meeting of the Pasco County Planning Commission.
Mary McKnight, who lives on Saint Joe Road, told the planning board that she deliberately went looking for public notice signs involving the Nov. 2 Cherry Hill West rezoning request, on a site off the VFW dirt road and couldn’t find any.
The attorney for the rezoning request said the site was posted, but said she will make an extra effort to ensure the notice is visible before the county board decides the case.
Planning board member Jon Moody voiced frustration over the county’s seeming inability to resolve the problem.
“I don’t understand what the holdup is, in getting the signs,” Moody said.
The planning board member, like county board members, said the signs should be larger.
“If I’m driving 50 miles an hour, there’s no way I can see a 1-inch letter written on a 24-by-36 sign. It’s unfair to the population,” Moody said.
He continued: “There was some direction to get larger signs, and I don’t understand what’s the holdup to get the larger signs. I know if I need a sign, I can call the sign shop and I’ll have it in a week. So, I don’t understand what the problem is.”
Moody said the public is constantly complaining about not seeing the signs, which are intended to provide public notice to allow interested parties to be involved in the process.
“I follow the Facebook group (regarding Pasco’s growth). There’s constant banter on the Facebook group about signs. That’s something that we really need to work faster to correct.”
“It just seems that it’s an easy problem to fix. We shouldn’t have to have constant complaints that ‘I didn’t see the sign, I couldn’t see the sign,’” Moody said.
Planning board member Derek Pontlitz agreed.
“We definitely need to improve our noticing abilities because this is not the first time that we’ve had someone come up and say, they didn’t hear about it, they didn’t see it, see the sign or whatever,” Pontlitz said.
Brad Tippin, the county’s development review manager, assured the planning board that addressing the issue is a priority.
“This is on our front burner. We are in the process of revamping the entire notification process, everything from the website, to the signs, all of it. There are some complicated aspects to it because we are transitioning a few of the pieces and how they are done.
“For example, the county currently buys the signs in bulk and everybody has to come and pick up signs and do different things. We are kind of changing that whole thing as well.
“So, there’s a lot to the process, but it is front-burner,” Tippin said.
Moody asked: “Any idea of time frame?”
Nectarios Pittos, the county’s director of planning and development, told Moody: “The time frame that we are shooting for right now is February/March, for both revamping the notification process and the signage.”
Moody wanted to know if the county will continue buying the signs in bulk, or whether applicants will buy their own signs.
Pittos responded: “That’s going to be worked out in the next couple of weeks.
“We are targeting February or March, making that public, but that’s how front-burner it is for us. Hopefully we can hit that target. There’s a lot of priorities on the desk, at the moment,” Pittos said.
Tippin told the planning board that the county is planning for a change in the size and design of the signs.
“So, we’re not going to have that small, illegible print any longer,” Tippin said.
Moody responded: “I think that’s probably the biggest problem. You know, you get a plastic sign and you get rain, and, of course, the ink runs off and the sign is blank after a few weeks, especially in the summertime.”
Tippin noted that another issue involves the placement of the sign.
“Where do you put them if you’re in the middle of a stretch of roadway where traffic is going 50 mph and there’s not a stop sign? Where do you put it, how do you put it to catch people from both sides?” Tippin said.
Pasco county board members have asked for a quick resolution of these issues.
Pittos told them during a recent meeting that county staff has been working on the issue at the same time they are planning to make a shift on publishing notifications of requested changes.
In the past, the notifications have been required in a newspaper of general circulation. But a change in state law, adopted more than a year ago, allows the county to publish those notices on its own website, which it is preparing to do.
Published January 10, 2024