A new development is being proposed in Land O’ Lakes that would transform 2,900 acres of ranch land into roughly 3,800 homes and 300,000 square feet of retail and office uses.
The Pasco County Planning Commission has recommended approval of a proposed land use change requested in the name of 4G Ranch PD.
Attorney Clarke Hobby, who represents the applicant, said a separate request also has been filed for a rezoning, which also must be approved for the project to proceed.
Planner Amy Tull detailed the land use request during the planning board’s March 16 public hearing on the request.
The site is off State Road 52, about 2.25 miles east of U.S. 41, in an area designated as a rural transition area on the county’s long-range planning map.
The request calls for changing the site’s designation from agricultural and agricultural-residential to a planned development.
The subject property is bisected by a Critical Linkage Ecological Corridor, in the name of Connerton to Crossbar. The applicant proposes amending the map to reduce the size of the corridor from about 830 acres to about 595 acres.
The county has no objections to the proposed changes in the eco-corridor because even after the changes, it would meet the intent of providing a connection between ecological conservation areas and supporting necessary habitat, according to materials in the planning board’s agenda packet.
Hobby told the planning board that 4G Ranch is owned by the Phillips family, which “does quite a bit for the community and hosts fundraisers out there quite a bit, so many people in the community have been there over the years.”
He said the site is in an area that the county designated years ago as a transition area from higher densities from the west and the south.
The area north of State Road 52 was basically made up of about four ranches that covered the area between Bellamy Brothers Boulevard to Pasco Trails, Hobby said.
But in the past few years, there have been increased development approvals in the nearby area, including the Palmetto Ridge Master-Planned Unit Development (MPUD) and Faircloth MPUD, Hobby said.
“The (State Road) 52 project is now in the (Florida Department of Transportation) DOT work program, and it’s my understanding that it’s to commence in about two or three years, so that’s radically changing the area that’s just been more of a rural-flavored, two-lane road.
“This is going to be a major growth area for the county, both in residential and non-residential, over time,” Hobby said.
The attorney added: “We’ve worked with staff to set the framework for the ultimate negotiations for the eco-corridor and the county’s acquisition of it, over time. That will be addressed concurrently with, or prior to, a second MPUD, which would be in Area 2, on the east side of the conservation area that you see on the map, which is the eco-corridor.
“What you are going to see in a couple of months — we only have one MPUD proposed at this time on Area 1, and that will be following this, like I said, by a couple of months.
“The family’s intention is to hold Area 2, where they have their large family compound, where the fundraisers are typically held, for an indefinite amount of time. We’re thinking it could be some period of time before that is dealt with.
“The subarea policies deal with the (elementary) school (site) and infrastructure issues that are important.
“We have a condition that requires the dedication of a school (site), once we have approval of above 1,500 units, on Area 2,” Hobby said.
“We have met with the Pasco Trails HOA several times and we’ve made some changes to our concept plan, which will find its way into the MPUD conditions — do a few things design-wise to make it more palatable for them. Feel like we have a good relationship with those folks, and we plan on continuing to be good neighbors,” Hobby said.
During the public comment portion of the planning board’s hearing, one couple, who lives next to the proposed land use change, voiced concerns about losing the oak and pine trees that currently provide a buffer between their property and the site. They would prefer the trees remain.
But Shawn Roark, president of Pasco Trails Homeowners Association, said the majority of people within the HOA would prefer ponds be used to buffer the property.
“We’ve met multiple times with 4G Ranch and they’ve been very gracious and open to our input. They’ve made changes,” Roark said, referring to a planned MPUD rezoning, which is a separate request.
Roark said using the ponds as buffers will help direct the drainage flow to the north, where it needs to go. He also thinks that approach will help preserve the area’s rural flavor.
Another speaker at the meeting represented a couple who has 10 acres nearby.
The speaker said the couple’s primary concern relates to what kind of buffering will be used and whether the new development will have any negative impacts on existing residents.
Published March 29, 2023