The Pasco County Commission has approved a request by DMMD I, LLC/MI Homes to rezone 20 acres at the northwest corner of Kristen Lane and Joy Drive for the development of 54 single-family homes.
The request received a recommendation for approval from county planners and from the Pasco County Planning Commission.
At a Sept. 28 public hearing, Clarke Hobby, the attorney for the applicants, told the county board that the site is within the urban service area and the South Market Area — which is the area the county has designated for its greatest growth to occur.
The request, for a Residential-4 Euclidean zoning district, requires lots to be at least 60 feet wide.
Other nearby developments include Oakstead, Bexley North and Concord Station, to name a few. Oakstead Elementary School is across the street from the rezoning site and Pasco County Animal Services is nearby.
Hobby told county commissioners that many of the nearby master-planned developments, if not all, include lot sizes that are substantially smaller than those planned for the rezoning site.
“So the lots you’re seeing here are essentially 50% larger than the majority of the lots that have been approved in this area, over the last several years,” Hobby said.
“MI Homes is proposing a development that will include houses from 2,100 square feet to 4,450 square feet. Two-thirds or more of the houses will be more than 3,000 square feet.
“This is not an entry-level project. It will be a credit to the area, and I believe will raise values in the area,” Hobby said.
However, area residents raised concerns about existing traffic and flooding problems — noting the additional development could worsen those conditions.
Jason Christman lives on Mitchell Road, which he described as “right around the corner” from the proposed development.
He laid out three primary issues.
No. 1, he said, is traffic. No. 2, flooding. And, No. 3, a lack of space for wildlife.
He described existing flooding problems.
After recent rains the water on his property and in the road was 4 inches to 8 inches deep, Christman said. “It took five days for that to recede.”
He’s also worried about the impacts that continuing development is having on wildlife.
“We have an overrun of wildlife. I have deer coming out, even in the daylight, trying to get into my garden,” he said.
Large developments are crowding out wild creatures, he said. “There’s no place for them (wild creatures) to go.”
Debbie Moore, who lives near the rezoning site, said “this isn’t a NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) thing. This is a ‘Save the wetlands, the wildlife and our way of life,’ thing.
“The builders and the developers, they make their money and they leave,” Moore said.
Area resident Becky Smith told the commissioners: “This is a huge problem. I’ve been in the area since the early ’80s, living on Mitchell Road. The changes over the last couple of years have been drastic.”
Moore said residents also are being forced to have their septic tanks pumped because of rising groundwater.
“How you can do this to us is unthinkable,” Smith told the board.
But Hobby told commissioners: “None of the flooding issues that you just heard on Mitchell are germane to this site.
“The closest, as the crow flies, that this site is to Mitchell is over a quarter of a mile,” the attorney said.
He also noted that the site in not located on maps that depict areas of observed flooding, and it’s not within a basin of special concern.
“There are neighbors that have flooding problems. We don’t deny that,” Hobby said.
He assured commissioners and neighbors that he is happy to meet with neighbors and county staff, after the rezoning, to see if there steps that can be taken by the county elsewhere, to address the area drainage issues. There may be some issues with a county drainage structure, for instance.
Hobby disputed testimony relating to traffic on Lake Patience Road.
Lake Patience Road is operating well within its capacity, according to a traffic engineer’s report prepared for Hobby’s client.
The issue, Hobby said, is the lack of a traffic signal at U.S. 41 and Lake Patience Road.
That intersection is at least a half-mile away from his client’s proposed development.
“It is simply not enough for the members of the public to say that there’s a traffic problem — when they don’t have the expertise,” Hobby said.
County board members were not swayed by the residents’ testimony and vote 4-1 to approve the rezoning, with Commissioner Jack Mariano voting no.
Published October 06, 2021