Pasco County commissioners have been advocating more attractive residential neighborhoods in recent months and now, they are shifting their focus to commercial corridors.
Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey raised the issue during the board’s March 8 meeting.
She prefaced her comments by saying that for 30 years she’s been involved in “a never-ending challenge to clean up Pasco County.”
She then began showing her colleagues some photographs.
“This is a company that’s moved onto (State Road) 54, without permits, to open up a towing site,” the chairwoman said, showing a property with a chain-link fence topped by barbed wire, and no landscaping.
“It is very unsightly. It kind of reminds me of the federal prison,” Starkey said. “I don’t think this is what we want (state roads) 54, 56 and other roads to be looking like.”
Starkey added: “The chain-link, barbed-wire thing doesn’t belong on our main arterials and collectors, and whatever other roads in your district that you want to designate.”
She also mentioned another example involving a business that moved from State Road 54, where it had a vinyl, opaque fence to State Road 52.
“But now, on (State Road) 52, they have a chain-link fence with barbed wire.
“We’ve got Angeline coming in there. You know, we’re trying to build nice communities.
“Chain link and barbed wire? We can do better,” Starkey said.
She also showed the board a series of other photos.
“This is where they had all of the oak trees and they cut them all down,” she said, showing a chain-link fence on State Road 54.
“We allowed them to put the landscaping behind the fence. It does absolutely nothing,” she said.
Commissioners Jack Mariano and Mike Moore both agreed that placing the landscaping behind the fence doesn’t make sense.
Nectarios Pittos, director of the county’s planning and development department, told the commissioners: “I think with regard to the landscaping, they’re on the inside of the fence line mainly because the orientation is to screen to the larger traffic area. Moving the orientation to the outside of the fencing, then the orientation is screening for motorists.”
Starkey responded: “I think that’s what we want. We want to project a better view from the road.”
County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder noted: “The code is also being used for residential, so traditionally, you screen the neighborhood from the road.”
Starkey responded: “That’s up to the neighborhood, but the traveling public needs to be protected from ugly.”
Mariano shared similar sentiments: “We want the place to look good from the roadway, when people are driving by. We’re not worried about what it looks like inside, we’re worried about how it looks outside.”
Pittos said it would not be difficult to specify in the code that landscaping should be placed on the right of way side of the fence.
“That just means that the fence is no longer at property line. The fence is probably 10, 20 feet within the property line, so that whatever buffer yard that’s there, let’s say, can be facing the right of way,” he said.
Starkey wants the county’s land development code to address fence types.
“We would probably target this toward our main arterial and collector roads, and those roads that have a transit emphasis on them, so State Road 54, 56, 52, the north-south arteries, like U.S. 19, Little Road, I could march all of the way to the east, but you get the idea,” Pittos said.
The planning director continued: “The chain link and the barbed wire — there’s a preference not to see it. Is there a fence type that is preferred?”
Commissioner Moore responded: “We can’t make that decision right now.”
Starkey added: “I think there may be some very few exceptions for chain link, and I think we should leave that window open.”
Moore agreed: “You might want to hear some of the issues that you’d run into.
“If we’re talking about (state roads) 54, 56 and (U.S.) 41, —wherever it may be — we still do have some ag properties along there, that need barbed wire, that need fencing for the cattle,” Moore said.
In essence, Starkey’s message was this: “Don’t degrade our communities.”
Starkey wrapped up the discussion by telling staff she felt they’d received sufficient direction.
Published March 13, 2022