The Pasco County Planning Commission has recommended approval of a rezoning to allow a 108 single-family home subdivision in Land O’ Lakes, provided the developer meets a number of conditions — including the construction of a road.
The request, by Darrell A. and Karen J. Renner, calls for rezoning 50.5 acres of agricultural land into a master-planned unit development (MPUD), on the south side of Bexley Road, about a mile west of the intersection of U.S. 41 and Wisteria Loop.
The planning board initially heard the request on Sept. 30, then delayed it until Nov. 4 and then heard it again on Nov. 18.
The delays were made to give the applicant a chance to address expected traffic problems that neighbors and the planning board believe will occur, as the area continues to develop.
Some neighbors to the proposed development urged the planning board to require the applicant to build what the county calls a “vision road” to prevent cut-through traffic in the Wisteria Loop area, as the area is poised for significant growth.
Jeremy Couch, who lives on Wisteria Loop, urged the planning board to require the proposed improvement, which the applicant estimated would cost about $2.8 million.
Attorney Shelley Johnson, whose clients are seeking the rezoning, said they are willing to improve Wisteria Loop, to bring it up to county standards — a condition that county planners required in their original recommendation for approval.
Subsequently, county planners changed the conditions to require the construction of the vision road, with the applicant being able to receive mobility fee credits that could be sold to recoup a portion of the costs.
Johnson noted that upgrading Wisteria Loop and improving a nearby intersection would cost about $1.5 million — significantly less than building a new road.
Chris Nocco, who is Pasco County’s sheriff, appeared at the meeting as a private citizen, not in his official capacity.
He’s against the proposed rezoning.
“I think one day they should be able to build homes, but not today.
“I don’t object to building houses, but build the houses when the roads are in place, and everything is ready to go,” he said.
“If you look at the whole Angeline project (a massive development planned in the area), this will actually tie into it because of Bexley Road.
Nocco said that if needed infrastructure doesn’t come first, existing neighborhoods will be threatened and the area will lack a coherent way to manage future growth.
“Let’s have a master plan for the entire road system,” Nocco said. “If we don’t address those issues now, we never will. All it’s going to do is create more congestion, more heartaches.”
Ray Gadd, deputy superintendent of Pasco County Schools, spoke at a previous hearing on the request. Like Nocco, Gadd appeared as a private citizen.
Gadd urged the planning board to require the vision road, to help the area prepare for the inevitable traffic that will be coming through, as new developments spring up.
Johnson previously had told the planning board that her client would improve the existing or build the new one, but would not do both.
The willingness to do the either-or, though, changed when they learned about the sizable cost differential.
Planning board members Jaime Girardi and Don Anderson both said that building the vision road was a big burden for Johnson’s client.
But Anderson said he doesn’t see another way to resolve the issue.
David Goldstein, the chief assistant county attorney, said the applicant would get mobility fee credits that could be sold to other developers to recoup the additional expense, over time.
The applicant could be eligible for about $1.3 million in mobility fee credits.
The planning board ultimately voted to recommend approval of the project, provided that a vision road is built.
Planning board member Roberto Saez dissented. He said the area lacks the infrastructure needed to support the development.
The request now goes to the Pasco County Commission, which has final jurisdiction over land-use and zoning issues.
Published Nov. 24, 2021