DADE CITY — County officials are forging ahead with plans to keep northeast Pasco County from turning into another Wesley Chapel.
The Growth Management Department is hosting a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Pasco High School to kick off its job of recommending development rules for the area, which runs north of State 52, east of Bellamy Brothers Boulevard, west of the Green Swamp and south of the Hernando County line.
The meeting has its roots in a 2005 study in which consultant Glatting Jackson outlined a host of recommendations, which were included in the county's comprehensive plan for growth. The firm completed the study after numerous meetings with stakeholders, those who have an interest in what happens to the community.
Taking that study and figuring out how to carry out the recommendations in terms of making rules is what this series of meetings is all about, said Fernando Leiva-Molina, the county's senior planner.
"We're looking at the nuts and bolts of regulations," he said. "We want to come back to the community and touch base with them and say, 'These are the recommendations. Is there anything we should add or change?' "
The meeting comes at a critical time for the region, which is under pressure from development creeping north from Tampa and south from Hernando.
East Pasco neighbors have recently turned out in force to oppose higher density developments being sought for hilly areas near Pasco-Hernando Community College. They also have organized to fight a proposed private landfill near the Green Swamp. State regulators are still considering whether to grant permits for the landfill.
What's next for the rural protection plan? County officials plan to report on their progress, do more research and then come up with a draft of recommendations that might include such things as overlay districts that have stricter rules and increased buffering requirements. As always, commissioners will have the final say.
Residents who can't make Wednesday's meeting will have plenty of chances to relay their concerns. Additional meetings will be set for December or January, Leiva-Molina said.
Many have already expressed their views. "I've been bombarded with phone calls and e-mails," he said. "I think that's great."
Lisa Buie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4604.