The Pasco County Planning Commission has recommended approval of a change that would make it easier for landowners along State Road 52, near Bellamy Brothers Boulevard, to pursue development.
However, planning commissioners also are recommending that any development done in the area be accompanied by a map that identifies where future sites would be located for schools and parks. The requirement for that map would be triggered before any residential development is allowed.
Planning commissioners also recommend that no heavy industrial be allowed, except for that which falls under the definition of a targeted industry. Targeted industries are the types of businesses the county is trying to attract to provide more high-wage jobs in Pasco.
The planning commissioners’ recommendations came during a discussion of the current land use policies involving the Central Pasco Employment Village Area Plan.
The village plan, which was adopted in 2007, recognized a coordinated effort among landowners to create a vision for 2,400 acres of land, with goals of providing jobs and housing, among other things. A financial plan for the area was among the original conditions.
Since then, however, there have been some changes in land ownership and at least one of the landowners has asked the Pasco County Commission to change the policies so they can seek approval for an individual plan for their land.
That’s why the county’s planning staff is seeking changes, explained Nectarios Pittos, director of planning and development for Pasco County.
“This particular text amendment is a county-initiated text amendment. It was found to be difficult to come together to develop the entire planning area at once,” Pittos said.
Planning Commissioner Michael Cox, however, isn’t wild about changing the approach.
“Overall, I have a problem with this whole request,” Cox said.
He said the property owners involved in the original plan agreed to it, and the new buyers knew what they were buying into.
“It’s concerning to me that now, we’re seeing a property owner wanting to pull out of that and go back to the way we used to do it,” Cox said.
Planning Commissioner Chris Williams, who also is planning director for Pasco County Schools, sought assurances that if changes are made, that there will be a provision for park and school sites.
The problem is that those needs could be overlooked, if individual developers are allowed to peel off, Williams said.
“If they come in, and they’re planning this whole area, then they have to take care of schools and parks,” Williams said.
But, if there isn’t a master plan, a number of residential developments could come in that are too small to trigger the requirement for a school site but, when taken together, create the demand for a school site, Williams said. By then, however, all of the land has been taken up by development and the school system can’t find nearby sites.
There are 4,500 residential units approved in the plan, according to David Goldstein, chief assistant county attorney.
He asked Williams if a provision is added requiring school and parks sites to be identified — before residential is approved — would address his concern.
Williams said that it would.
But, others in the audience also raised concerns.
“I’m the landowner who initially suggested that we go with individual MPUDs (master-planned unit developments), so that we can develop the industrial piece at the corner of State Road 52 and Bellamy Brothers Road (Boulevard),” said George Southworth, one of the property owners.
“We need to do something with the property. It’s a perfect place to create jobs for the county,” Southworth added.
He also noted that what he wants to do there would not generate a need for schools.
He acknowledged he has other residential properties within the village plan that likely would contribute to the need for school facilities, but this particular piece would not.
Southworth also emphasized: “There is a plan. We’re sticking with the plan and the appropriate land uses that were identified and approved by the county in that plan. We’re just saying, now we can move forward one landowner at a time, or two or three, whoever wants to work together. Otherwise, we’re just stopped dead in our tracks,” Southworth said.
Other landowners, however, expressed concerns.
“I am one of the owners within this MPUD. When I bought the property, I knew what was in here. I was comfortable with it, or I wouldn’t have bought it. It gave certain protections,” said property owner Andy Scaglione.
“When the board mandated — for the fast track on this, they did not know there was serious concerns among other property owners. All they were hearing from was Mr. Southworth.
“I own 133 acres.
“I think we need to slow this down. This is 2,400 acres on Highway (State Road) 52. This is very, very valuable property. This is moving way too quick. There’s too many questions. Let’s look at also some of these heavy industrial uses because that should not be allowed here.
“(State Road) 52 is going to be (State Road) 54, in not too long. Let’s move slow on this. Let’s get it right,” Scaglione said.
Other speakers also encouraged the county to slow the process down, to make sure that nothing’s allowed that could harm other landowners’ property values.
“Our biggest concern is the industrial. Everybody agrees it needs to get done right the first time,” said Terry Schrader, who lives on West Pasco Road.
Ultimately, planning commissioners amended the proposed change to allow light industrial or heavy industrial when it is affiliated with targeted industries.
The next step will be for a public hearing by the County Commission, which has final jurisdiction on land use and zoning matters.
Published July 24, 2019