The Pasco County Planning Commission has approved a request by Russ and Leanne S. Henderson for a special exception to permit a private hockey school in an agricultural district, about 2 miles north of Overpass Road, on the west side of McKendree Road.
The school, which is planned on a 10.3-acre site, is limited to a maximum of 20 people, including students and employees.
In addition to the ice rink, the school will have a shop where students could get snacks — similar to a school bookstore, according to backup materials in the planning board’s agenda packet.
The ice rink will be located within the business core zone of Connected City, the application says.
It is going in next to a nonprofit equine ranch and rescue at 9249 McKendree Road.
Dr. Judy Horvath, who operates the equine center, said the facility provides therapy for both horses and people.
“Our concern is obviously for the horses, for the safety of the horses and the people that visit them,” Horvath said. “It’s an all-volunteer organization.
“We are worried about the safety of the horses because of the noise factor, of the compressors and the chillers,” Horvath told the planning board during its June 3 meeting.
“We’ve gotten verbal reassurance that those chillers will somehow be insulated, or put on the other side, which would be wonderful,” she said.
The planning board voted to approve the request, but added a requirement that the operation will meet the county’s standard noise conditions.
Horvath also voiced concern about the ice rink’s potential environmental impacts.
“There’s ammonia runoff from an ice rink,” she said. “We’re hoping that will be taken care of appropriately.”
If there is ammonia runoff, she said, “it could affect pastures, it could affect groundwater. I’m just looking for reassurances on that.”
But Henderson said, “there’s no ammonia used, in what we do.
“The ice rink is literally just water that’s put on the ground that gets shaved off,” he said.
I wanted to reassure Judy because the horses are important to me, as well.”
He also doesn’t expect much noise from the ice rink.
“All of the chillers are in the southeast corner of the property, which is the furthest place it can be, in terms of the horses and the equine center,” Henderson said.
“The chillers we’re using are brand new. I don’t think it’s going to be an issue for Judy or the horses,” he added.
Horvath was the only person, aside from the applicant and his representative, to offer public comment on the request.
The planning board, which has jurisdiction over this type of application, voted unanimously to approve the request.
Published June 23, 2021