The Pasco County Planning Commission has recommended approval of a maximum of 525 residences and 106,285 square feet of office uses on a site of approximately 158 acres, in an area known as Connected City.
The Connected City corridor consists of about 7,800 acres in a state-approved development district meant to foster residential communities and employment centers that are the wave of the future. Its borders are Interstate 75, State Road 52, and Curley and Overpass roads.
The area is meant to feature cutting-edge technology, including gigabit Internet speeds and innovation.
The proposed project, which gained the planning board’s recommendation for approval on April 21, is at the northeast corner of Elam and Kenton roads, about 6,600 feet east of Interstate 75. The site is currently vacant and used for agricultural pursuits.
The proposed 525 residences may consist of a mix of single-family detached, attached and/or multifamily, courtyard houses, row houses, townhouses and possibly garden-style apartments, Tammy Snyder, a Pasco County planner told the planning board.
This portion of Connected City requires medium density standards of 3.25 residence per acre. There’s also a maximum number of single-family residences allowed in this part of Connected City. Thus, the proposed project is limited to 192 single-family residences, according to Brad Tippin, the county’s development review manager.
Also, Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative owns 12.18 acres of this site.
Clarke Hobby, an attorney representing the applicants, said the request involves a site within Connected City’s Community Hub Zone.
“The overall intent of the Community Hub is to create mixed-use projects that create a blend of employment and mixed-use housing opportunities.
“As we go from over on Curley (Road) with the lowest densities and moving to the west, we are approaching the business core zone, and staff thinks that the best planning objectives are not only to phase out having single-family, as was mentioned, but to get to a higher density as you approach that area.
“The Business Core Zone, which is kind of the southern area of Pasco Town Center, that’s going to be a very intense and dense form of development down in that area. So, staff wants to make sure these areas are working together,” Hobby said.
By contrast, the developments of Epperson and Mirada are located in other areas of Connected City that specifically allow for lower density of development.
As part of the current proposed mixed-use project, Hobby said, “we’re building the first segment of Kenton Road. We’re having to acquire right of way from third parties for it, and we’re dedicating right of way. We’re going to be redesigning the intersection of Elam Road and Kenton Road to address an existing offset that staff identified, and it’s a fairly extensive amount of work and background work that had to go into making that happen.”
Efforts made to limit impacts
Hobby also noted that extensive work has been done to mitigate impacts on neighbors.
“Having grown up in Dade City, I fully realize that this is a very rural area, traditionally. And so we knew this was going to be one of the sites that our neighbors were going to be very concerned about the form of development and changes over time.
“So, we’ve had a series of meetings with them, and my client literally has spent the better part of the last week out there meeting … and trying to make everyone happy.
“We have a series of private agreements with them that relate to trees that we’re going to save on our property line, that provide nice buffering for them, some additional tree mitigation that we’re going to do on our site and then some landscaping things that we’re doing for our neighbors,” he said.
He provided letters of “no objection” for the record from eight of the 10 neighbors.
“We are, as staff noted, providing a service-ready site at the corner of Elam and Kenton, and working with our neighbor, Withlacoochee Electric River Cooperative, on that, and anticipate having a really nice use there. We’ve got some intel from them about what’s probably going to go there and I think everyone will be happy with the job creating uses there.
“We’ve also given extensive thought to the cross connections with the MPUD (master-planned unit development) that’s directly to our east and southeast. We have a lot of interconnections between that and the various parcels on our site, to ensure the connected in Connected City is being met.
“The result of all of this is that we have a really nice mixed-use development, with great interconnectivity, employment and housing options.
“So, I think we’re hitting all of the requirements of Connected City,” Hobby said.
Michael Pultorak, who lives on Kenton Road, expressed concerns about the potential for area flooding, if the water levels rise in King Lake.
“I am pro-growth. I am pro responsible growth. I am pro responsible development,” Pultorak said.
However, he added: “The problem is, since 2009, the water is up almost 8 feet.
“My 4-foot cattle fences are completely underwater during the rainy season, and the best I can do during the dry season is see the tops of them.
“We used to have land that exceeded 250 feet past those cattle fences.
“I have lost over 700 feet of land, linear, since 2009,” he said.
Pultorak said area residents told him there used to be three outlets for the lake and now that’s down to one, which is across Kenton Road.
“I’m pro-development. I’m pro-growth. But please don’t do it on the backs of the current residents and property owners that are trying to keep this as our homesteads and provide agricultural supplies and services and resources for the entire area,” he said.
Hobby said he’s also aware that some neighbors simply want to retain the area’s historically rural nature.
“Connected City was adopted some years ago. It was a legislative change from the state and the county is implementing it. This area is not going to stay rural much longer. It’s just not going to,” Hobby said.
“What we’re trying to do is be a good neighbor and provide good buffering where we can, to fulfill the Connected City goals, while not overwhelming our neighbors,” the attorney said.
Published May 04, 2022