The Pasco County Planning Commission has recommended approval of a request to allow a maximum of 107 homes on a 43.5-acre site in Land O’ Lakes.
The property is on the north side of Dogpatch Lane, about 390 feet west of Joy Drive, and abutting Joy Drive, about 690 feet north of Dogpatch Drive.
The application seeks to change the zoning from agricultural and agricultural-residential designations to a master-planned unit development.
County planners found the request consistent with the county’s long-range plan and land development code, and recommended approval.
The planning board voted to recommend approval to the Pasco County Commission, which has final jurisdiction over county land use and zoning issues.
The planning board’s action came despite objections from area residents who raised concerns about potential impacts on wildlife and the prospect for additional traffic on Lake Patience Road.
Cathryn Baxter Polonitza told the planning board that she’s worried about negative impacts on the area’s wild creatures.
“I know my neighbors see gopher tortoises pretty frequently. They are an endangered species,” she said.
The proposed development also appears to be closing off the wetlands, she said.
Plus, “our schools are completely overpacked, right now. We have portables.
“We have issues with traffic. I’ve seen myself, fire trucks not be able to go where they need to go because of the traffic we have on Lake Patience (Road),” Polonitza said.
She told the planning board that many of her neighbors couldn’t attend the meeting because it was being held during the middle of the day, when people are working.
Ron Rubrecht, another area resident, said he’s concerned about the wetlands and also the increased traffic.
“You’re going to put 200 more cars in the neighborhood,” he said.
There’s already backups as people pick up and drop off their children at Oakstead Elementary, which is on Lake Patience Road, Rubrecht said.
“Lake Patience is going to have to be a four-lane road with turn lanes, to accommodate the school,” he said.
Debbie Moore, who also lives nearby, told the planning board: “We’re just getting pounded and pounded and slammed in, as tight as you can possibly get.”
Like the others, she complained about adding traffic to Lake Patience Road.
“This is a very, very horrible road,” she said.
Barbara Heck, another area resident agreed with the traffic concerns: “You cannot get through Lake Patience at school time.”
Planning Commissioner Jonathan Moody asked Polonitza who had told her that gopher tortoises are an endangered species. They’re not an endangered species, he said, but are a protected species.
That means a survey will be done and the gopher tortoises will be removed and relocated, Moody said.
The planning board member said the same process likely was used to make way for other development that’s already occurred in the area.
Attorney Barbara Wilhite, representing the applicants, told the planning board that her client will comply with gopher tortoise requirements.
She also noted that the proposed density of the development is in keeping with the county’s long-range plan.
The proposed subdivision, which will consist of single-family detached homes, will be served by county water and sewer, the attorney added.
The type of development is what the county’s plan envisions, Wilhite said.
Published June 20, 2022