Crown Community Development got the go-ahead from the Pasco County Commission to build Chapel Crossings, a mixed-use development that will be located north of State Road 54 and east of Curley Road.
More than 1,000 single-family homes and apartments are planned. There also would be about 175,000 square feet of retail and about 50,000 square feet of office space.
“This is a great project,” said attorney Barbara Wilhite, who represented the developer at the public hearing to rezone the property. “We’ve worked really hard on it. (Pasco County) staff worked really hard on it.”
But the approval didn’t come without a kerfuffle over the construction of roads that will bisect the approximately 300-acre site in Wesley Chapel.
Crown Community Development plans to spend about $6.6 million to build extensions to Curley Road and a portion of the Zephyrhills Bypass Extension. The roads intersect in the center of Chapel Crossings.
The disagreement focused on the types of roads that are required, and whether Crown Community Development needed to build a second north/south road through the property at an additional cost of about $990,000.
It wouldn’t be a road that served Chapel Crossings, said Craig Weber, vice president of Crown Community Development, whose company also developed WaterGrass and Seven Oaks in Wesley Chapel.
Weber claimed that the county was holding him to a standard “that doesn’t exist. I don’t get it. Let’s just not make it up as we go along.”
It also isn’t certain, he said, that the road would ever be needed to connect with potential development to the north.
His project is southwest of the Villages of Pasadena, a planned community with potential for a range of 22,000 to 25,000 homes.
“We don’t believe the code requires a second north/south road, one-third of a mile from Curley Road,” said Wilhite. “My client thinks he has met the standard.”
But Chairman Ted Schrader and Commissioner Kathryn Starkey raised concerns about a road design that didn’t go far enough to give people alternatives to driving on major thoroughfares that already are in gridlock.
Newer subdivisions that direct traffic onto State Road 54 compare unfavorably, Starkey said, to older neighborhoods in west Pasco County that do have neighborhood roads.
“You have got to have interconnectivity between neighborhoods or you’re going to have gridlock everywhere,” said Starkey, who had to leave the hearing prior to the vote. “One of the basic qualities of life is to be able to move around within a community and not have everyone on the same road.”
Other commissioners were more supportive.
“It could end up being a road to nowhere,” said Commissioner Mike Moore. He also suggested that the second road might not be environmentally doable because of wetlands.
That argument, in the end, persuaded Schrader to join with other commissioners in approving the project.
“I think you have to have interconnectivity,” he said. “I think that is better planning. But when I look at the map, I see some real challenges to making that happen.”
Published July 1, 2015