A presentation on the county’s efforts to update its comprehensive plan was cut short last week — after a majority of commissioners raised questions about the proposed time frame for completing the work.
Nectarios Pittos, director of planning and development, began his presentation at the board’s Oct. 26 meeting by explaining — for the public’s benefit — that the purpose of the comprehensive plan is “the long-range plan to manage growth, improve quality of life and ensure long-term sustainability for the county.
“So, why are we doing an update of the comprehensive plan?
“We want to understand the current conditions and address the changing needs and reassess the vision that the current comprehensive plan has,” Pittos said.
Required by state law, the county’s comprehensive plan must consider: future land use, transportation, housing, conservation, coastal management, recreation/open space, public facilities, capital improvements, intergovernmental coordination and economic development.
“It’s been 16 years since the last update, 31 years since the establishment of the plan and a lot has changed since 1991 and 2006, and a lot is changing right now.
“And because the 1991 plan took us to 2025, we’re looking at the next plan to take us to 2050, hence the new name of the future comprehensive plan being the Pasco 2050 Plan,” Pittos said.
The county approved its first task order with HDR Engineering to help with the project last year, and approved a second task order with HDR, at last week’s meeting.
The county has envisioned a five-year process for updating the comprehensive plan — which lays the groundwork for the county’s vision and growth over the long-term.
“So, we’re going to be revisioning the county’s long-term plan and we’re going to be looking at a number of data, asking lots of questions and studying the county — where we’ve been and where we’re going,” Pittos said.
Public involvement is important and a public engagement plan has been created to foster that participation, Pittos said.
The planning director then laid out the major efforts that will be completed, as part of the update over the next four years.
He planned to hand off the presentation to a member of his staff, to go into greater detail regarding what’s been done so far, but that didn’t happen.
Instead, Commissioner Mike Moore began questioning why the process needs to take so long and asking what can be done to update the plan sooner.
When the county board discussed the update a few years ago, Moore said, he was under the impression it would be done around 2023.
“There’s a lot of things we’ve asked for. There’s a lot of things we requested. So, now we’re going to wait until 2025 for a lot of these things,” Moore said. “Hey listen, I know it’s a big project. This is a long time to wait.
“We’re going on four years or so, from when it was first brought up and first asked to initiate changes. In reality, you’re looking at about a nine-year time frame from when it was first brought up.”
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey told Pittos: “Every one of the steps is very important. We want you to go through all of them.”
But she asked: “Is there any way to speed it up?”
County Administrator Dan Biles told commissioners that the first year of the project was part of last year’s budget and the second year of the project is part of this year’s budget.
“It’ll be in the budget for the next two or three years, until we get this done. It’s not a short-term process,” Biles said.
Commissioner Jack Mariano agreed with Moore and Starkey: “Should it take that long? Can we speed it up?”
Pittos wrapped up his remarks as the meeting was approaching the break for lunch.
He offered to have his staff member make her presentation after lunch.
Instead, Biles addressed Commission Chairman Ron Oakley: “Mr. Chair, I would suggest that we table this for now, we can come back and brief each of you individually, with where we are, where we’re going, what the plan is, get feedback from you directly, and then bring you back something at a later date and kind of wrap up all of this discussion.”
The county administrator noted that may include some schedule adjustments to accelerate the work.
Published November 03, 2021