Pasco County Council Examines Development Projects Amid Environmental Concerns

The recent Pasco County Council meeting delved into various development proposals which sparked active community involvement due to potential impacts on the environment, local infrastructure, and neighborhood character. Most notably, the discussions revolved around proposed changes to the Beacon Woods East mpud, Jar Palms mutd, and a debate regarding environmental concerns over the proposed master plan for the ARA Heights Sun West Harbor Town and Heritage Pines MD.

The planning commission considered a zoning amendment for Beacon Woods East mpud, which proposed the development of 218 homes by NVR homes Ryan Homes, part of the property owned by the Ilman family. The amendment aimed to introduce specific uses in the golf course areas, such as walking trails, open play areas, and recreational courts. The meeting saw Barbara Willhite, representing NVR homes Ryan Homes, address various issues related to the property including the removal of trees and ponds outside the development area. The project garnered support from community members like Joe Sears and Jeff Bomgardner, who praised the community’s efforts to come together to improve the area. Phil Rork, whose property borders the rezoned area, expressed satisfaction with the professionalism of the project and acknowledged the property owner’s collaboration with the Homeowners Association (HOA). However, Rork raised concerns about wild coyotes in the area, urging the council to consider relocating them to prevent potential safety issues.

The council also discussed rezoning petition 7734 involving the Jar Palms mutd. The proposal sought to rezone from mut to mutd to allow for the construction of 250 platted townhomes and villas, a notable change from the original plan which allowed for 499 RV spaces. The speaker, named William, detailed the proposal, providing maps and visual aids. The council acknowledged a letter of objection from citizens and ex parte communications regarding the proposal.

Moreover, the meeting addressed the proposed master plan for the ARA Heights Sun West Harbor Town and Heritage Pines MD, which outlined access points to US9 and an emergency access point on Cher Lane. The applicant proposed a 35-foot buffer in response to citizen concerns and sought a variation in street design and dedication requirements. Public comments highlighted issues such as access road protection, buffer size, emergency road maintenance, water control, aquifer impact, and lighting, stressing the importance of the development aligning with the character and needs of the existing community.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Charles Scott Strickler presented two sworn statements concerning the proposed mpud site and adjacent property, raising concerns about the destruction of tortoise mounds and the quality of homes built by Meritage Homes. Strickler provided evidence and debated the credibility of the claims with the council members, focusing on the timing of the complaints and the methods used to identify the number of burrows.

Environmental concerns continued to be a central theme throughout the meeting. Discussions included the disturbance of turtle habitats, compliance with wildlife habitat protection laws, and concerns over potential noise and water issues in the new development proposals. A transportation engineer addressed traffic management plans, and the council debated legal authority regarding the imposition of minimum home values for development.

The meeting also touched on practical considerations, such as peak hour traffic counts, irrigation wells, and consumptive use permits. The council addressed residents’ concerns about the placement of a dog park and a lift station, and debated the construction of a concrete or masonry wall versus a fence. Further, the preservation of existing vegetation and the impact of nearby bald eagle nests on the development were discussed.

In the end, the council moved to approve the proposed development with a suggestion to have an environmental expert present at the Board of County Commissioners meeting. The motion passed with some members in support of the project, citing its alignment with the future land use category and the comprehensive evaluations it would undergo.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.
Mike Carballa
County Council Officials:
Ron Oakley, Seth Weightman, Kathryn Starkey, Gary Bradford, Jack Mariano

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