The Pasco County Commission has adopted policies aimed at improving the architectural look of houses built on 40-foot wide and 50-foot wide lots in master-planned communities.
The idea is to avoid creating subdivisions in which the houses on small lots within the neighborhood all look alike.
To prevent that, commissioners want houses on the 40-foot-wide and 50-foot-wide lots to have, at a minimum, three architectural distinctions.
Commission Chairwoman Kathryn Starkey called for requiring that minimum for houses on any size of lot, but other commissioners did not think that was necessary.
Commissioner Ron Oakley put it like this: “As you move to larger lots, the architecture kind of takes care of itself.
“On 40-foot lots, it’s very important we make sure you do it the right way. But as you get to 60-foot lots and others, people are spending more money on their home. They care about the architectural view and they don’t want what somebody has next door, or across the street,” Oakley said.
Commissioner Jack Mariano said, “I think with the smallest — the 40s and the 50s — I think the architecture is critical.”
Like Oakley, though, he was less concerned about imposing the standards on the larger lot sizes.
Mariano asked how the new policies will be enforced.
Sally Sherman, assistant county administrator, said the onus will be on the people seeking the smaller lot sizes, in master-planned unit developments (MPUDs), to keep track of complying with requirements.
Nectarios Pittos, the county’s director of planning and development, said quarterly reporting will be required.
Starkey, whose family is involved in development, said: “This is commonly done. You rarely build the same model next to each other.”
She said it’s easy to achieve differences in architectural details, by varying such things as the style of a garage door, a shutter, some brick.
“Brick, stone, stucco, Hardie plank — there’s so many to choose from, I don’t think it’s ever going to be an issue. But we should at least have three details,” Starkey said.
Jennifer Motsinger, representing the Tampa Bay Homebuilders Association, said the county and stakeholders had an in-depth conversation.
“The real issue that we were concerned about was that this already takes care of itself. And, so it puts a lot more pressure on the staff and essentially, you’re kind of doing double work.
“The staff is already reviewing the plans in the process and then they are doing this extra layer, which they’ve already kind of done. And because the bigger lots have all of the bells and whistles that you guys like anyway, why regulate something just for the sake of a regulation?”
“Chairman, to your point, of course, we understand that generally speaking, you want a better product in Pasco County. That’s what we’re trying to deliver for you,” Motsinger said.
“That’s the goal,” Starkey said.
Clarke Hobby, a land use attorney who represents many applicants who appear before the county board, told commissioners: “We were tasked with dealing with a 40-foot lot issue and townhouse issues, so we were dealing with those issues with MPUDs.
“And, there was discussion with stakeholders about applying architectural features to 50-foot lots. And again, there’s some similarity of building type on those lots, so we don’t deny that we should be stepping up those issues.
“We’re trying to avoid creating a bigger paperwork issue for the county and the building community going on, forever, on lots that are really not a problem,” Hobby said.
“The perceived problem was 40-foot lots. We broadened it to 50. We just don’t want to keep going on this forever and ever,” Hobby said.
Starkey said she also wants to pursue changes relating to driveways, which she will research and bring back for further discussion at a later date.
Pittos said that “by October, we should have a number of (MPUD) negotiations under our belt and should have been able to test these conditions of approval under a series of situations, and we can make an assessment at that time to see whether or not the provisions work, what needs to be changed and what now can be added into the land development code, as a standard.”
Published March 30, 2022