Jon Moody, who has returned to serve on the Pasco County Planning Commission for a second time, has noticed some things he’d like to see change.
Moody was sworn-in on July 7 to fill a vacant seat. He previously served on the board from January 2007 to November 2013.
When the planning board met Aug. 5, Moody raised some issues for discussion with his colleagues and Pasco County’s staff.
He said he’s noticed “that the consent agenda has changed a lot, since I last occupied this seat.”
The consent agenda contains a number of items that the board votes on in a single action, without discussion. Items are placed on the consent agenda when they are considered to be non-controversial because no one has come forward to object or raise questions.
“I’m frankly shocked that I see large-scale comprehensive plan amendments; 3,000-acre projects; 800-home subdivisions; 1,600-home subdivisions — all slide through on the consent agenda,” Moody said.
“In my mind, the consent agenda is for Mrs. Jones’ 5-foot variance for her shed, not for us just to rubberstamp a 1,000 homes here, a 1,000 homes there,” Moody added.
His comment drew applause from the audience.
“That needs to change,” Moody said. “I’m just going to sit up here and pull them off, and we’re going to hear them.”
He also cited an application that was on the agenda that day, which was for a request on the west side of the county — even though the planning board meeting was in Dade City.
Both the planning board and the Pasco County Commission alternate their meetings between the Historic Pasco County Courthouse in Dade City and the government center in New Port Richey.
In the past, applications were heard at the meeting place closest to the site in question.
Chief Assistant County Attorney David Goldstein said: “The old, old policy, called the (former County Administrator) John Gallagher policy — maybe when Mr. Moody was here — was that anything on the east side of the county had to be heard on the east side; anything on the west side of the county had to be heard on the west side.
“There was no deviation from that.
“The more current county administrator (former County Administrator Dan Biles) relaxed that policy. If there was no opposition to the item, it could be heard on either side of the county.”
Brad Tippin, the county’s development manager explained: “The reason why that change was made was it was due to the volume of submittals.”
“A directive was given to us to do the first available hearing after we’re ready to go, unless there is some form of opposition. That was done to try to improve the processing time, due to the volume of stuff that is happening in the county right now.”
Tippin also noted that another part of the rationale is that anyone who wants to participate in any public meeting can do so, remotely, through the county’s WebEx system.
Planning Commissioner Peter Hanzel also weighed in, noting that when the staff schedule applications, it should consider not just distance from the meeting place, but also driving time.
For instance, it takes about 40 minutes for people in Central Pasco to get to Dade City, compared to about 75 minutes for them to get to New Port Richey, Hanzel said.
Moody also raised a question about public notice requirements for requests to amend the county’s comprehensive plan.
Nectarios Pittos, the county’s planning and development director, told Moody: “Comp plan amendments are noticed in the newspaper, per state statute requirements at this time.
“But we have identified an update that needs to be made to our land development code to align the notification requirements and make them similar to (master-planned unit development) notification requirements.”
Moody then asked: “How far around the perimeter of the MPUD are the notification requirements?”
Denise Hernandez, county zoning administrator, told Moody that the notification requirements vary by land use. In essence, notice must be given within 1,000 feet for properties designated for agricultural (AG), agricultural residential (AGR) and residential, one home per acre (Res-1).
For property designated for three houses per acre (Res-3) and above, the notice requirement is 500 feet, she said.
Moody asked: “Why is the notification requirement less, if the development is more intense?”
Hernandez: “If you look at the logic, it’s because the AG, AGR — those are larger pieces of property, so you’ll pick up more people, if you do the 1,000 feet.
“Typically, those properties, AG or AGR, are 5 acres, 10 acres, 20 acres, 40 acres. That’s why the notice is 1,000 feet,” Hernandez explained.
Goldstein added: “That’s why staff requires the posting of signs, because signs are supposed to be the notice to anybody that lives beyond those radiuses.”
Published August 10, 2022