After more than a decade, a set of regulations laying out a plan to preserve the rural character of northeast Pasco County finally is in place.
The Pasco County Commission unanimously approved an ordinance to adopt development standards for the Northeast Pasco Rural Protection Overlay District on Aug. 9.
Nearly 50 area residents attended the public hearing on the ordinance. A handful spoke approvingly during public comment.
“This is going to add something to Pasco County that I don’t think any other county in Florida has,” said Nancy Hazelwood. “This is going to be your jewel.”
County officials crafted the ordinance after holding numerous public meetings and getting input from area residents.
Not everyone embraced the ordinance.
Area resident and property owner George Dombrowski objected to the new rules as government overreach.
“I don’t think there is a need for the county to tell me what I can do with property I’ve owned for 10 years,” he said.
The ordinance puts into practice a rural preservation goal embedded into the county’s land use plan about 10 years ago.
It establishes a “northeast rural area” bordered by Bellamy Brothers Boulevard, the Green Swamp, State Road 52 and the Hernando County line.
The regulations govern residential development of three houses or more. They restrict mining operations or other developments that could lop off hillsides or impair vistas.
Portions of some roadways, including State Road 52, Bellamy Brothers Boulevard and Trilby Road, are designated as scenic. Development along those roadways must meet landscaping and buffering requirements.
Rural lighting standards also are established.
A second ordinance will deal with commercially zoned properties and designated employment centers, largely along U.S. 301. The highway isn’t on the list of scenic roadways and won’t be subjected to the scenic landscaping rules.
County commissioners urged county staff members to move quickly on crafting the commercial standards.
That could aid in economic recovery for the area, which was devastated by freezes that decades ago wiped out citrus crops, and cost upwards of 3,000 jobs, said Pasco County Commissioner Ted Schrader.
“This is clearly an area we need to work hard on to bring more job opportunities,” he said.
Published August 17, 2016