The Pasco County Planning Commission has recommended approval of a change to the county’s comprehensive plan that would allow consideration of up to 400 apartments to be developed on 28.2 acres, at the intersection of Wesley Chapel Boulevard and Hay Road.
Planning commissioners recommended approval, despite objections from commissioners Peter Hanzel and Roberto Saez.
The proposed change of the comprehensive plan is the first step in the process to permit the proposed development. A zoning change would be required, too.
The Pasco County Commission has final jurisdiction over land use and zoning changes.
The current land use designations on the property allow up to six dwellings per acre, and also light industrial uses. The proposed change would allow up to 24 dwellings per acre.
County planners recommended approval of the request, which they say will yield about 13 dwellings per acre on the land because it has a significant amount of wetlands.
The county’s comprehensive plan does not have a category between RES-12, which allows up to 12 units per acre, and RES-24, which allows 24 units per acre.
In this case, the applicant has agreed to cap the density at 400 units, as a condition in its planned request for a master-planned unit development rezoning.
In the agenda background materials, county planners said the request is supported by the comprehensive plan as “an appropriate transitional land use between the single-family residential development to the north and zoned multifamily district to the west.”
They also noted that a proposed employment center use abuts the property, and that generally encourages higher densities to support that type of use.
Joel Tew, an attorney representing the applicant, said “this site is entirely appropriate for multifamily development.”
“We have an overabundance of apartments in that area. There is no need for another apartment complex out there,” Hanzel said.
He voiced concerns about the county having an oversaturation of apartments, creating the prospect for problems down the road, when “huge apartment complexes will begin to deteriorate.”
Planning Commissioner Michael Cox said: “I personally think there are plenty of apartments right now.”
But, he added: “The fact is that this request is consistent with the comp plan. Ultimately, a decision to deny would have to be defensible in court.”
Planning Commission Charles Grey agreed: “When we deny something like this, we need a leg to stand on.”
Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore frequently has pressed for less apartment development in the county, contending that Pasco already has more than enough.
Cox said if the county wants less apartment development, it needs to change its comprehensive plan to reflect that.
Published January 13, 2021