A plan for a downtown in Connerton — that’s been decades in the making — is moving closer to coming to fruition.
The Pasco County Planning Commission, and the county’s planners, are recommending approval of a change that would set the stage to convert land currently zoned for agricultural into a master-planned development.
The proposal, by applicant Lennar Homes LLC, calls for Connerton Villages III and IV, which would be a master-planned development that would allow a maximum of 2,160 dwelling units, 150,000 square feet of retail, 150,000 square feet of office, a charter school with up to 765 students, an 80-acre district park and the allocation of 7 acres for a library/fire/emergency medical services facility within the villages.
Clarke Hobby, an attorney representing Lennar, said “when Connerton was approved originally over 20 years ago, it included a 300-acre downtown area — in this area — that included a very large community college and over 1 million square feet of regional commercial. So, basically it was going to have a mall.”
The new vision is substantially different.
It has a connectivity plan — including trail systems — that will greatly reduce the dependence on vehicles to get around the community, according to background materials in the agenda packet.
The commercial plan is different, too.
“It’s going to be a bunch of local-serving retail that will benefit the Connerton community, but will not be of regional nature,” Hobby said.
“We’re really excited. We’ve worked with staff for 2½ years to get to this point — and the community plan, and connectivity plan that we’ve created — I believe is going to be one that we’ll all be proud of for generations,” he said.
The only public comment came from Rob Park, who lives in Bahia Acres, which is on the other side of Ehren Cutoff from the proposed development area. Park sent an email to be read into the record.
“Over the years, there has been one variance after another and none of the proposed downtown areas were built,” Park wrote.
“The variation requests address that and reads like a fairytale, and sounds like a dreamland,” he added.
“Issues of congestion, light and noise are not mentioned,” Park continued.
“The proposal does not say one thing about blending in with Bahia Acres across the street, which has generations of residents. I have been there 40 years, and I am the relatively new guy on the block,” Park’s email says.
Hobby responded to Park’s email by noting: “For the planning commission’s benefit, Mr. Park has objected at several hearings about his concerns about Ehren Cutoff, which is a county collector and it is morphing into a larger-scale road.”
Hobby also noted that: “Most of the uses that Mr. Park is concerned about are about a half-mile from Ehren Cutoff and really won’t have an effect on those people on the east side of Ehren Cutoff, and moreover, the uses are really only community-serving retail-sized.”
Planning commissioners voted unanimously to recommend approval of the request, to the Pasco County Commission, which has final jurisdiction on land use and zoning issues.
Published March 31, 2021