On further review, Pasco Commissioner Jack Mariano has decided that the long-delayed apartment complex in the Seven Springs-Trinity area, The Oaks, doesn’t need further review after all. Late last month, Mariano was one of three commissioners who voted to send the 102-unit, 2 story apartment complex Sherer Development wants to build back to the county’s Development Review Committee for another look. The county staff had endorsed the project, and County Attorney Jeff Steinsnyder said the commission was “compelled” by law to grant Sherer Development the construction permit it applied for two years ago. Nevertheless, Mariano and Commissioners Pat Mulieri and Henry Wilson voted to send the permit back to the DRC for another look, a process County Administrator Michele Baker said could take two more years. This week, however, Mariano said he wanted another chance to consider the permit for The Oaks. Mariano said in August he misinterpreted some of the data regarding Sherer Development’s permit request. There may have been other factors at play in Mariano’s U-turn. One was Sherer’s apparent determination to move forward with a lawsuit — against the county and Mariano, Wilson and Mulieri as individuals — over the permit denial. The other was the lack this time of a big crowd of residents demanding commissioners block the project.
Last month, we said that when officials have a choice between the popular will, however sincere, and the rule of law, the law should rule. This week, Mariano said of not approving the permit, “If we let it stand as is, I think we are going to lose later.” He is almost certainly correct.