For now, the plan is to create a plan.
Planners with Pasco County’s planning and development department are working on doing just that in the Greater Lacoochee area. It’s the northeastern most part of the county and includes Lacoochee, Trilby and Trilacoochee.
In this case, the county is looking to build upon ideas and plans set forth nearly two decades ago, but also wants to lay out a realistic plan for one of the most rural parts of the county.
The county’s goal is to gather, collect and analyze resident and citizen feedback, while also taking into account the area’s potential and expected growth.
“There was a lot of work that was done about 10 to 15 years ago, so we’ve been pulling that and used that as a foundation,” said Sonide Simon, a long-range planner for the county. “We also looked at what had been done then and are also looking at what needs to be fixed up at the same time, and finally seeing if that still works today.
“We have nothing, and that’s what I want everyone to understand: we literally have no plan,” Simon added. “Someone asked what we have planned, but we have no plan.
“And even then, the area wants or needs one thing and this area wants or needs one thing, so talking about two different things isn’t helpful either.”
For the wants, and even needs, Simon and the county’s planning department are inviting citizens and residents of the Greater Lacoochee to take part in public workshops. The county also has established a site that allows people to fill out a survey, anonymously, and to leave comments.
The site also offers a wealth of information, including an interactive map that allows users to click on icons that represent certain community elements such as transportation, housing, business development, and parks and recreation.
Clicking on an icon allows users to start a discussion or leave comments on that specific location on the map.
The county’s planning division also has brought in a Tampa-based geotechnical engineering firm, S&ME, which will provide development and design services. Both entities will develop the plan that will include land use, housing, commercial and industrial development, roadway design and maintenance, alternative modes of travel utilities, parks and more.
Pasco County plans to schedule two more public workshops, one in the Winter and another in the Spring.
The goal is to have the plan ready to present in a March/April time frame.
The first public workshop was on Aug. 30 and attended by dozens, if not over 100 citizens. S&ME representatives laid out the schedule of collecting data, as well as information it found out in initial research.
Of the nearly 11,000 acres included in Greater Lacoochee, 35% of that land is used for agriculture, while another 32% is considered residential. With a population of just under 2,800, the area remains very rural.
Also, during this workshop, citizens were allowed one-on-one time with county and S&ME representatives that were looking for feedback. Residents were encouraged to write down on lists and white paperboards the issues and ideas they thought were relevant.
The most popular, and prevalent, comment was “keep Lacoochee rural” with “open spaces,” as well as a “small, tight-knit community.”
“We’re trying to be realistic that keeping this area rural probably doesn’t fit that idea of 100% rural,” Simon said. “But at the same time, they need more jobs, more work in this area, so how do we marry those two ideas? Rural, but with growth.
“And then this area becomes a lot like Wesley Crazy Chapel? No. We’re building just on the ideas that were done in the past and those ideas were that this is a rural area. That was then. The question now is where do we need to look? That’s where these workshops come in.”
Greater Lacoochee Community Plan
Details: Pasco County’s Planning and Development Department is working on community plans for the greater Lacoochee area, which includes Lacoochee, Trilby and Trilacoochee. The plan will explore topics such as land use, housing, commercial and industrial development, roadway design and maintenance, alternative modes of travel, utilities, parks and more. The county is seeking feedback from Lacoochee area residents and citizens by providing two more public workshops and an online survey.
Info: Access the survey and provide feedback, at smeinc.mysocialpinpoint.com/lacoochee_small_area_plan.
Published September 21, 2022\