The Pasco County Commission has disbanded the Northeast Pasco Rural Advisory Committee.
The committee was formed to develop recommendations and guidelines for commercial development within the Northeast Rural Overlay District.
The advisory panel was approved by the Pasco County Commission and was empaneled by Commissioner Ron Oakley — whose district includes the area — and the Pasco County Planning and Development Department.
At the county board’s Jan. 11 meeting, Oakley told his colleagues that the chairwoman of the advisory committee had appeared to speak at a Pasco County Planning Commission, during a case involving a proposed RV resort.
Lisa Moretti, the chairwoman of the advisory committee, asked the planning board to delay the RV park request until after the advisory committee completed its recommendations.
Oakley said: “I don’t think anyone directed her to do so (speak at the planning commission meeting in her advisory panel role), but she did.
“I don’t think that’s the way that this advisory committee should work,” Oakley said.
He then expressed frustration about the way the advisory committee had been operating.
“To let you know, we’ve had three or four meetings. We haven’t gotten a lot of good advice from this committee — to say the least — to be able to advise you on much of anything.
“Most of the answers from it (the committee) are negative, are ‘No, we can’t do that. We don’t want to do that. We don’t want traffic down County Road 41.’
“That’s an arterial road (County Road 41) from the Interstate (75) to Dade City. We have to have traffic on that.
“But they’ve said ‘No’ to that. They don’t want any development around that intersection, which is a major intersection of Pasco County, as you come from the north, down (Interstate) 75.
“They don’t want anything there.
“I’m not getting advice. I’m getting negative, Nos, about a lot of things,” Oakley said.
When the committee began, Oakley said he told panel members he didn’t expect them to say yes to everything, but also didn’t expect them to say no to everything.
He said he told them: “You’re an advisory committee. I want your advice about how things should look in this area, or how you would like to see it look, for the best of all of the citizens.
“Closing the whole area off just doesn’t work,” Oakley said.
Commissioner Mike Moore noted: “We have a planning commission that gives recommendations to the board when it comes to items we’re actually going to vote on. I think the last thing you want to see in an advisory role, or an advisory committee, is debating on projects that are going to come in front of us for a vote.”
Moore then told Oakley: “Listen, if you’re asking this board — I don’t know if you are, or not — to do away with it, I’m on your side, man. It’s your call. If you want to be done with it and move on, be done with it.”
Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey asked: “Is that what you’re thinking?
“We have the rural protection ordinance for residential and we do not have the rural protection ordinance for commercial.
“I thought you were working on the commercial rural protection ordinance because we do need to address that,” Starkey said.
Oakley said the initial meetings were not productive, but they did give him an idea of how development should occur in a rural area.
“The only way you could have development of any significance in that area, you would have to have numbers. You’d have to have density.
“But I think there’s a way to have density, in areas you don’t see from a roadway,” Oakley said, through the use of trees, landscaping and setbacks.
“My vision has been — you ride down Trilby Road, which is a collector road, from Lacoochee/Trilby area, that goes all of the way to Blanton.
“You could ride down that road and maybe you’ll come a nice entrance into some property, but you don’t see any houses. You don’t see houses next to each other … because that setback has landscaping and things of that nature …”
At the same time, Oakley said: “It would allow property rights for those who have property in that area, to develop something.”
Moore told Oakley the panel could be disbanded, if it’s not taking the advisory role that was intended.
He continued: “We’re here to support you as a district commissioner,” adding, “if you don’t feel it’s a good use of your time or staff’s time, be done with it.”
County Attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder told the board that it’s their advisory committee, so the board can disband it, if so desires.
Typically, when the board forms an advisory committee, it is to review staff work or a consultant’s work product, Steinsnyder said.
Oakley made the motion to disband the committee “because we’re not getting anywhere with it.”
He said he would meet with staff to “try to come up with something better than what we were trying to do. It’s not working.”
Starkey said: “Let’s have staff and commissioner Oakley come back to us with ideas of how to move forward with the East Pasco Rural Protection Ordinance for the commercial because we need that.”
Later in the meeting, Steinsnyder asked the board to repeal Resolution 21-137 that established the rural advisory committee, which board members did.
Published January 19, 2022