The Pasco County Commission has approved a rezoning to allow an apartment development of up to 350 units at the southwest corner of State Road 52 and Old Pasco Road.
The 23.1-acre site currently is occupied by pastureland, some residences and some outbuildings. It abuts the Mango Hills master-planned unit development district, which has been approved for a maximum of 415 single-family detached and single-family attached townhomes.
Properties to the north and the northeast, adjacent to State Road 52, are zoned for general commercial, light industrial and retail, office and residential land uses.
In recommending approval of the request, county planners said the proposed apartments are a logical transition from general commercial and industrial uses.
The request also received a recommendation for approval from the Pasco County Planning Commission.
In addition to approving the rezoning, the county board also granted a variance regarding the number of parking spaces required for the project.
The property is next to where Pasco County will be building the Orange Belt Trail, and the project is planning to construct a bicycle and pedestrian access to that recreational trail.
During the planning board’s public hearing, Attorney Barbara Wilhite, who represented the applicant, said the maximum allowable density, under the county’s comprehensive plan, would be 24 units per acre. But the proposed project calls for a maximum of 15 units per acre.
Wilhite said the proposed apartments would have access to a portion of Old Pasco Road that has four lanes.
She also noted that the proposed apartments are close to the State Road 52/Interstate 75 interchange, and nearby properties are planned for industrial development.
The access to the project is from Old Pasco Road, Wilhite told the county board, during its Aug. 24 public hearing on the request.
Commissioner Kathryn Starkey noted the planned access to the Orange Belt Trail.
She told Wilhite that her client should consider using a small piece of land near the trail to create a business that would serve trail users.
Starkey said the county wants to create opportunities for entrepreneurship along its recreational trails, such as a coffee shop, or an ice cream shop or somewhere “that would be a fun place to go, if you’re using the trail.”
She encouraged Wilhite: “Be thinking creatively about a retail or a small commercial experience, next to that trail.”
Wilhite said there is property nearby that could be used for that purpose.
Starkey responded: “It could be on your property, too. One of the things that we’ve (Starkey and county staff) talked about doing is what’s called an overlay district, all along the trail. You see it done in other places, where you have it zoned that, if you want to do something.
“We would put the uses in. Ice cream shop, coffee shop, lemonade stand, whatever, if you’re within 20, 50, 100 feet of the trail — whatever — the right determination is, you can do it.
“It’s just a great benefit and a really cool thing to have along the perimeters of the trail. Especially that trail.
“I hear from people all of the time that we don’t have enough amenities on our trails.
“Once you leave the Starkey Market and Longleaf, you go all of the way to Hernando County before you can buy a drink or an ice cream or anything along our trail.
“I just want to really encourage some little entrepreneurship along the trails,” Starkey said.
Published September 01, 2021