Pasco County has been growing rapidly in recent years, and that trend is expected to continue.
“You have over 250,000 people in the pipeline that are expected to move to the county by the Year 2045,” Steve Schukraft, a planner with HDR Engineering Inc., told the Pasco County Planning Commission, during its April 21 meeting.
So, over the next 25 years or so, Pasco is “going to add the number of people, that’s similar in a scale, to all of the people who are living in the city of Tampa,” said the planner, whose company has been hired to help Pasco County update its comprehensive plan.
“When you look at the curve, that’s a similar rate of growth as you’ve experienced, since around 1980,” Schukraft said.
“There is a lot of development in the pipeline. Shaping that development is really fundamental. Preparing for it, serving it, shaping it — is really critical,” the planning consultant added.
Local governments, under state law, must develop comprehensive plans.
“Comprehensive plans provide your authority to zone. So, it’s a fundamental basis for your land development code. But it also provides guidance for capital investment programs, conservation investments, transportation programs,” Schukraft said.
In the 2050 update, he added, “we’re folding in some of the work the county is doing, related to sustainability and resilience.”
Completing the update is expected to take five years. The first two years have focused on primarily research and beginning to think about the broad structure of the plan. Next, the plan elements will be drafted, and finally, the Pasco County Commission will adopt a new plan.
“The most minor approach would be a strike-through and add-in to the existing document, but there’s a possibility to restructure segments of it, in a more significant way. So, that’s what we’re trying to find out, what’s appropriate,” Schukraft said.
“We’ve been doing a series of work sessions with groups around the county, to supplement our research in the more technical aspects of growth and development, across Pasco County,” he added.
The consultants are diving into past planning processes, in the documentation and feedback that the county has received through various activities and is supplementing that with listening sessions.
The listening sessions focus on perceptions of the county’s assets and challenges and ideas about what should be done to build a better future, the consultant said.
The county also has gathered feedback from the community in recent years, and that data, along with information gleaned through the listening sessions will be used to create an Issues and Ideas Report, he said.
Listening sessions aim to gain greater insights
Schukraft explained how the listening sessions work.
“As we talk to people, we ask them: ‘Do you know about the plan?’ ‘Are you aware of development that’s going to happen around you?’
He told the planning board: “I can tell you our observation is that, it’s kind of hard, when you look at the plan, to know that. To know what’s coming.
“If you were uninitiated and you pulled up the county’s comprehensive plan, or went to the web site, it’s really tough to tell what’s going to happen around the corner, up the road, down the road, and the timing of that.
“So, one of the things we need to do in this process is make the future more transparent, so people understand, what’s in the pipeline, what’s committed, what’s next and where the sort of edges between different kinds of development occur.”
He also shared observations regarding the county’s long-range planning and zoning processes.
“We have early notions that it appears you spend an awful lot of time doing comprehensive plan amendments, which are kind of like land development code approval actions. And, they’re almost stacked right on top of one another.
“The comp plan is supposed to be a larger policy document that guides broader decisions, and the land development code is where things get executed and detailed.
“So, there may be a way to separate those two documents a little bit, so you’ve got higher level guidance in the comp plan and then you use your land development code to detail how projects get delivered, location by location.
“So, if it’s minor uptick in density on a project, maybe the comp plan can absorb that level of change, if it doesn’t change the character of a broad area.
“The land development code, if you want to change your zoning, that becomes a separate discussion, about appropriateness, about compatibility, about impacts on roadways, schools, public facilities,” Schukraft said.
David Goldstein, chief assistant county attorney addressed the consultant: “Can I ask you a question about that, though, because most of what we process are amendments to the future land use map. Are you suggesting that we not have a future land use map?”
Schukraft responded: “You need to have a future land use map. You don’t have to have the lan -use map you have now. It could be a more generalized map. That’s a possibility that we could look into. Because right now, your future land use map and your land development code are practically the same thing.
“You wouldn’t be doing amendments at every meeting. You’d be doing amendments on a three-month, six-month, cycle, that would be broader-scale amendments.”
Schukraft went on: “The thought of that is that long-range planning could focus more on the long-range questions. Your short-range, your zoning and land development code staff, could focus on the land development code questions.
“They wouldn’t be stacked up and doing similar things,” he said.
Goldstein also told Schukraft that the county’s current comprehensive plan contains a number of policies that says the county will adopt amendments to the land development code by certain deadlines, but that hasn’t happened.
Schukraft responded: “Where there’s time frames and commitments indicated in the comp plan that staff hasn’t been able to deliver for various reasons, it’s really fundamental to get that cleaned up.”
Planning board members told Schukraft that they would like a longer session to delve deeper into issues and the consultant said that will be arranged.
Published May 04, 2022