NEW PORT RICHEY — Some officials might be trying to limit multifamily home construction in Pasco County, but builders are pressing ahead with plans for growth, and keeping the county’s Planning Commission busy.
At its meeting March 25, members heard of several rezoning requests and approved unanimously a zoning amendment for a master planned unit development district allowing Salem Radio Properties to build 325 residential units on more than 77 acres in the south central part of the county, on the south side of Bud Bexley Parkway near Ballantrae Boulevard.
Another plan from Lennar Homes LLC pulled from the consent agenda for discussion sought 2,160 homes, 150,000 square feet of retail, 50,000 square feet of office space, a charter school, an 80-acre park and seven acres for a library/fire/EMS facility in the Connerton Village III and IV MPUD.
The land is vacant, the agenda documents noted, and includes a 40-acre downtown to promote walkability. An email in opposition from resident Rob Parkes and read into the record said the project looks nothing like the project that was approved 20 years ago, and that the downtown areas never seem to get built.
“It reads like a fairy tale and sounds like a dreamland,” Parkes wrote.
Clark Hobby, of Hobby and Hobby P.A., contended that the original downtown plan was larger and was for a mall-like structure. The plan is to bring non-auto dependency and trail systems to the area.
“We’ve right-sized the downtown area,” Hobby said. “We’re really excited and we’ve worked with staff for 2½ years to get to this point.”
The change was approved on a 6-0 vote. It now goes to the County Commission.
Another zoning amendment pulled from the consent agenda sought a zoning change to a Master Planned Unit Development District to add acreage and allow substantial changes to the master plan on approximately 63.23 acres in northwest Pasco County, on the south side of Hudson Avenue approximately 1.1 miles east of Colony Road, according to the agenda documents.
The plan would add parcels to the development, add houses in a new tract, update development standards and change the dimensions of lot sizes.
At present, the site consists of platted residential subdivisions and undeveloped lands.
Resident Jeff Hobbes said his concern is the connection into Amberwood, but it’s an emergency connection. Still, he is concerned about an increase in traffic and asked that the county reduce speeds through the community with roundabouts or four-way stops. Other than that, he said he had no objection to the changes.
The motion to approve and send to the commission passed 5-0 with one abstention due to conflict of interest.
The question of housing vs. industry and commercial development loomed over a request for a comprehensive plan text amendment for the Central Pasco Employment Village project, with debate centered about which would come first.
The proposal, which was a late insertion into the agenda, would add an initial residential development and remove the affordable housing provision.
Nectarios Pittos, planning and development director, said the hope is to have a job to housing ratio of 1:1 to increase the number of single-family homes on the site.
The proposal doesn’t replace jobs with housing, and in fact, one speaker said, some commissioners should like the fact that there is more single-family housing planned there than before.
Still, Andy Scaglione called it “shortsighted” to build residential before the jobs are there.
Joel Tew contended, “To say it’s shortsighted to build residential before jobs is wrong. It makes no sense to oppose this.”
There is no infrastructure there without housing, he said, and there is a residential developer who would like to start building.
After much discussion, a recommendation for continuance to the April 22 Planning Commission meeting was approved 6-0, and the meeting was adjourned.
The next Planning Commission meeting is April 1.