Saying they want to make sure they get the planning right, the Pasco County Planning Commission continued a rezoning request by Darrell A. and Karen Renner for a proposed 108-home development in Land O’ Lakes.
The request was continued until Nov. 4, when the planning board is scheduled to also consider another nearby rezoning request known as the Clark master-planned unit development (MPUD).
There’s a connection between the two because some right of way is available in the Clark MPUD that could help resolve a traffic circulation concern.
The Renners have requested a rezoning that would allow a new subdivision on 50 acres, on the south side of Bexley Road, about 1 mile west of U.S. 41 and Wisteria Loop.
The site presently is occupied by a residence and some agricultural pursuits, and its current zoning allows a maximum of 19 residences, according to the county’s planning staff.
County planners have recommended approval of the Renner’s request.
They said the proposed density is in keeping with the county’s future land use designations for the area. They also recommend a number of conditions. One condition requires improvements on Bexley Road and Wisteria Loop — to bring both of these substandard roads up to the county’s standards.
Under those conditions, the improvements would be required on Bexley Road, from the project driveway to Wisteria Loop, and on Wisteria Loop, from Bexley Road east to U.S. 41.
Area residents, however, urged the planning board to require a different solution to traffic issues.
They want a realignment of Wisteria Loop, which they say is part of the county’s vision road map.
Ray Gadd, who lives on Wisteria Loop, explained the current scenario to the planning board and what area residents would like to see.
“As it stands now, they (motorists) come to the curve in Wisteria (Loop), and they can go right to Tower (Road) or out to Wisteria Loop,” Gadd said.
If the realignment is constructed, the traffic flow would change.
“What it (vision road) accomplishes is that it essentially makes Bexley a continuous road. So that people coming from the applicant’s property, people coming from the Bexley property, or the future Angeline property would hit Bexley and have a continuous route, without a stop sign, until they hit (U.S.) 41, where they would make a right turn,” Gadd said.
Requiring that approach would be “effective planning,” Gadd contends.
If the planning commission wants to recommend approval of the Renner request, it should require the developer to acquire the right of way needed to make that improvement, Gadd said.
That land is within the proposed Clark MPUD.
Gadd is deputy superintendent of Pasco County Schools, but made it a point to announce that his appearance was as a private citizen, not in his official capacity.
Jeremy Couch, another Wisteria Road resident, told the planning board: “I feel that the staff’s conditions are completely inadequate for what they want to do.”
He characterized the Renner’s requested development as being “premature.”
Chris Nocco, Pasco County’s sheriff, also spoke at the public hearing. Like Gadd, he announced he was there as a private citizen, not in his official capacity.
Nocco urged the planning board to take a long view when considering the application.
“We want the community, Land O’ Lakes to grow, but to grow smartly,” Nocco said.
“Start those vision roads,” he said, because without them, existing communities are at risk.
“As we start building out Angeline (a massive development planned in Land O’ Lakes), let’s start seeing how it’s going to affect everything else because we don’t want to destroy the communities that are already in place,” Nocco said.
Matthew McClain, who lives on a 3.5-acre property just east of the proposed rezoning, raised issues regarding compatibility.
“My concern is, this will destroy that rural nature. Everything around it is large lots,” he said.
With the proposed rezoning, McClain said, “You’re going to cram 100-plus homes on 34 (upland) acres, in an area where there’s 3-, 5-, 10-acre plots of land. It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Shelly Johnson, the attorney representing the applicant, said her client can make the improvements required in the conditions, or can complete the realignment that’s being proposed.
But it can’t do both, she said.
Johnson asked the planning board to recommend approval and to send the request to the Pasco County Commission, which has final jurisdiction on land use and zoning issues.
“From our perspective, we’re doing everything that we’re required to do that other developments do. When you have a road that’s substandard, you bring it up to standard, and that’s what my client agreed to do,” Johnson said.
“We are absolutely doing everything that we can, and that the code requires us to do, in terms of doing improvements to Wisteria Loop, which right now is our access. That’s our way in and out to (U.S.) 41.”
Planning Commission Chairman Charles Grey told his colleagues, the board needs to be sure “that when we do this, we do it right — we have the proper things in place.
“We can’t let an artificial date define how we handle these neighborhoods. I think traffic flow here, is extremely important,” Grey said.
Planning Commissioner Chris Poole agreed.
“We need to get the planning right on this. This is a particularly difficult area that we’re dealing with here,” Poole said.
After additional discussion, the board voted to continue the request until Nov. 4, the same day it is scheduled to consider the rezoning request for the Clark MPUD.
Published October 13, 2021