TAMPA — The Tampa City Council has decided to wait on Pasco County’s next move in connecting main roads between booming New Tampa and Wesley Chapel, agreeing to delay a final vote until June 28 on a proposal to add up to 700 new homes in K-Bar Ranch at the northernmost tip of New Tampa.
The nearly two-month wait is designed to see if Pasco County will change its stance on completing and opening a 30-foot stretch of roadway that would link Kinnan Street in New Tampa and Mansfield Boulevard in Pasco County.
Pasco and Tampa have been in a stand-off for at least a decade over the roads.
Years ago, Pasco residents traveled to New Tampa to shop and dine. Since the Shops at Wiregrass opened, however, Pasco County has been less interested in opening its housing developments on the Hillsborough County border to traffic from New Tampa.
"We have a constant crisis in this area," said council member Luis Viera, who represents New Tampa. "Not just what we’ve heard here today. A crisis of government is not really working together and we’re all the victims here today."
With Chairman Frank Reddick and council member Guido Maniscalco absent at the May 3 council meeting, the remaining five council members suggested slowing the pace of the rezoning request. During the discussion, it became clear the council didn’t have four votes to approve the project.
Charlie Miranda, at least, appeared ready to join Viera in opposition to the project.
Miranda, who has served on council on and off since the 1970s, had a more philosophical take. He said allowing sprawl without adequate transportation options is a game that may be nearing the final buzzer.
"Not only is it Tampa’s problem. It’s the whole city’s problem. The whole state’s problem," Miranda said. "When you do not invest in infrastructure and keep putting more and more burden on the infrastructure, something is going to happen. Something is going to give. The thing of just coming to Florida for the sunshine may be doomed."
After the vote, Pasco County Commissioner Mike Moore said his county’s study on the issue wouldn’t be ready for months and his county wasn’t going to step up the pace for Tampa or K-Bar developers.
"We have our schedule to look at any possible connections and we’ll be sticking to our schedule here in Pasco County," Moore said.
Meanwhile, K-Bar Ranch residents say trips to the emergency room at Florida Hospital in Wesley Chapel or to Wiregrass mall take up to two to three times longer tha n they would with the Kinnan-Mansfield connection up and running.
Tampa transportation officials say they’re ready to connect several roads in the K-Bar Ranch area to Pasco.
"We can’t make another municipality connect to our roadway, said Melanie Calloway, a Tampa senior transportation planning engineer. "We can’t make them."