The Pasco County Planning Commission has recommended approval of a 110-foot observation tower on the south side of St. Joe Road in Dade City.
The approval came despite objections from two planning commissioners, as well as county planners, and an area resident and the owner of some adjacent property.
The request now goes to the Pasco County Commission, which has the final authority.
Terry and Mary M. McKnight, 36210 St. Joe Road, of Dade City, want to install the observation tower on a 9.84-acre site on St. Joe Road, about 4,965 feet east of Happy Hill Road.
Planning commissioners Michael J. Cox and Roberto Saez both strenuously opposed the request.
“I think this is just a real gross abuse of the land development code,” said Planning Commissioner Cox. “The land development code was written to not allow this kind of thing in an agricultural area.”
He also noted: “That’s pretty intrusive to other people. This thing is going to stick up five floors above the tree line.”
Plus, Cox said, “It’s not consistent with the rural character of that area.”
Planning Commissioner Saez put it bluntly: “I’m totally against this.
“I don’t like to create this precedent in the county,” Saez said, adding, “It’s more about privacy than anything else, in my opinion.”
The county’s planning staff recommends denial of the request.
During an Aug. 9 Planning Commission hearing on the request, however, the issue was continued and planners were asked to bring back conditions that could be attached to an approval.
The planners provided a list of 17 conditions, including that the tower cannot be used for commercial purposes. Among the other conditions: The tower must be painted green, loud music cannot be played in the tower and no electronic or recording devices are allowed on the tower, except for cellphones.
Terry McKnight said the applicant is agreeable to the conditions.
But, Steve Futch, of 2975 Plantation Road in Winter Haven, spoke against the request. He said the McKnights’ property is adjacent to property that was his mother’s land.
That property will be transferred to heirs of the family, and they oppose the request for the 110-foot tower.
The observation tower “will not promote rural or estate-type living,” Futch said.
The height of the structure would be the equivalent of an 11-story building, he added, “that would tower over the adjacent properties and be seen from a significant distance in all directions.”
He asked commissioners to consider the impacts the tower would have on its neighbors.
“Imagine having your private property being observed from such a high ‘observation tower’ which could easily be an invasion of your privacy, your personal use of the property,” Futch said.
Another area resident, who lives across the lake from the proposed tower, said many of the people who would see the tower do not live close enough to receive notification of the McKnights’ request.
Despite the Planning Commission’s recommendation for approval, the county’s planning staff continues to recommend denial of the request, said Denise Hernandez, the county’s zoning administrator/special projects manager.
Published September 19, 2018