The Pasco County Commission has approved a land use change that will allow greater density on about 30 acres near Zephyrhills.
The change increases the allowable density from three units per acre to six units per acre and lays the groundwork for a future rezoning.
The rezoning, which is being pursued, will accommodate the expansion of the Forest Lakes Estates community, a 1,000-home manufactured housing community for people age 55 and older.
Clarke Hobby, an attorney representing Equity Lifestyles, said his client owns the existing 1,000-unit manufactured housing community, which is on the east side of Gateway Drive, and wants to add about 90 additional units on the 30-acre property, on the west side of Gateway Drive, south of County Road 54.
During the Dec. 7 county board meeting, Hobby said the land use change makes sense.
“There’s Res-6 across County Road 54 from us, and there’s a large swath of I-L (light industrial) that’s immediately to our west. So we don’t feel that the change from Res-3 to Res-6 is a big issue, from a land use planning perspective.”
Hobby also told board members: “Gateway Drive runs from County Road 54 down through the eastern part of the project.
“Our plan is to swap right of way and build the neighbors a new road on our western side, so we’ll be able to ultimately join our projects, and we’ve agreed, in a private agreement to — in addition to that, at our own costs, to give our neighbors enough money to resurface the entirety of Marx Avenue and Frontier Drive to the south, which approximately is a mile or so, in addition.
“So, my client has made a big commitment to help with the betterment of this area,” he said.
Area resident Cindi Buckel objected to the change.
She urged commissioners to reject the request, citing concerns about area traffic and increasing traffic fatalities, as the county continues to allow new subdivisions along two-lane roads.
She also noted the difficulty motorists face, as they attempt to get around in an area that’s growing increasingly congested.
“The roads have not been looked at, as the subdivisions just keep growing, and growing and growing,” Buckel said.
She noted it already takes a long time — even without the new houses — to get out onto County Road 54, from Gateway.
“You have construction trucks, nonstop, heading in both directions towards Polk, towards Zephyrhills,” she said, while also noting a double fatality accident that recently occurred — involving a construction truck and a RAV-4 on Chancey Road.
Commissioner Ron Oakley applauded the developer’s plan to build the additional road.
“The real bonus was when they decided to build a new road for the residents behind it. It keeps from splitting that park up and it joins it together. And it makes it a lot better for the residents that are on larger tracts, right in behind them,” Oakley said.
Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey asked if the new development would have landscaping requirements.
Hobby said it will.
Hobby also noted that County Road 54 has been rated at a Level of Service B.
The land use change was approved on a 5-0 vote.
In a separate action, related to the same property, the county board has set a public hearing for Jan. 11 at 1:30 p.m., to consider the advisability of closing a portion of Gateway Drive, from County Road 54 to Marx Avenue.
Hobby’s client has proposed constructing a new alignment to connect County Road 54 to Frontier Drive, which then connects to Marx Avenue, and, upon completion of the Frontier Drive Extension, to exchange the newly constructed Frontier Drive Extension with the Gateway Drive parcels.
Published December 15, 2021