A proposal that would allow 400 apartments off Wesley Chapel Boulevard, at Hay Road, is being sent to state officials for review.
A divided Pasco County Commission approved the transmittal to the state, on a 3-2 vote, with Commission Chairman Ron Oakley and Commissioners Kathryn Starkey and Christina Fitzpatrick voting in favor, and Commissioners Mike Moore and Jack Mariano voting against.
The state transmittal is just one step in the regulatory process needed to allow the proposed apartment project to proceed.
The site currently has a long-range plan designation of six dwelling units per acre and light industrial. Much of the land is occupied by wetlands and cannot be developed.
The proposed change would allow up to 24 dwellings per acre, but because of the wetlands, only about 13 dwellings per acre could be achieved, according to county planners.
County planners have recommended approval of the request, characterizing the request as “an appropriate transitional land use between the single-family residential development to the north and zoned multifamily district to the west.”
The Pasco County Planning Commission also recommended approval — despite objections from Planning Commissioners Peter Hanzel and Roberto Saez, who said the area is becoming oversaturated with apartments.
Commissioner Moore has repeatedly argued against rezonings that allow more apartments in the Wesley Chapel/Land O’ Lakes areas.
He predicts there will be a heavy price to pay in the future, when a glut of apartment buildings leads to high vacancy rates and buildings that fall into disrepair.
In recommending approval, county planners also noted that a proposed employment center use abuts the property, and that generally encourages higher densities to support that type of use.
Attorney Joel Tew, who represented the applicant, said the site has multiple property owners and the land has been assembled for this potential project.
Having multifamily adjacent to an employment center is consistent and supportive, Tew said.
“We submit this would be the poster child for the appropriate infill project,” Tew said.
Tew also noted that the wetlands on the site prohibit the possibility of future retail or office uses there.
In concurring with Moore, Mariano said: “I think we do have enough apartments out there. If they want to keep it residential, keep it smaller densities.
“Do I need more density right there? I don’t know that I do,” Mariano said.
A separate rezoning request is expected to come to the county board in the future.
Published February 17, 2021