WESLEY CHAPEL — A CVS drug store being built across the street from the Meadow Pointe II clubhouse and a private day care center won't get to sell beer and wine, Pasco County commissioners decided Tuesday.
In a precedent setting case, commissioners unanimously considered a playground, swimming pool and clubhouse operated by the Community Development District to be a public park and refused to grant CVS a waiver from rules that bar alcohol sales within 1,000 feet of schools, churches or parks.
The store, at the southwest corner of County Line Road and Mansfield Boulevard, is about 250 feet from the clubhouse.
"This is smack dab in the middle of a residential neighborhood," Commissioner Michael Cox said. "If there ever was a time to not grant waivers, this could be the ultimate time."
Commissioner Pat Mulieri, whose district includes the CVS site and the neighborhood, agreed. She noted that two years ago commissioners refused to grant permission for a gas station to be built there after residents complained about traffic and possible alcohol sales.
"We protected the residents," she said.
The vote came after commissioners heard from staffers, an attorney for CVS and two residents, including the vice chairman of the Community Development District board.
"This (case) is kind of the first of its kind," said zoning administrator Debra Zampetti. She said she decided to classify the clubhouse and park, open only to card-carrying members and their guests, as a public park "out of an abundance of caution" and posed the issue as one that required a waiver under county rules.
Grace Yang, who represents CVS and the property owner, said alcohol sales would be limited to package purchases of beer and wine, and customers would not be allowed to drink on the property. She said CVS sells many items besides beer and wine, and she noted that none of the Pasco stores that sold alcohol had been cited for an alcohol violation in the past two years.
"We are sensitive to the fact that there is a park for children," she said. She added that it was the Community Development District's responsibility to maintain a family friendly atmosphere on its premises by enforcing its ban on alcohol.
She also said that the store is buffered by a four-lane road and parking lots at the store and the clubhouse.
Jim Bovis, vice chairman of the Meadow Pointe II district board, said allowing "a wet zone" so close to the park would increase traffic, jeopardize the safety of children playing at the park or walking to nearby schools. He also said a possible increase in crime would lead to the deterioration of the family friendly atmosphere.
"Wiregrass Ranch is going to have all kinds of alcohol for people who want it," he said, referring to a slew of restaurants to be built at the nearby Shops at Wiregrass. Commissioners approved alcohol licenses for those establishments on Tuesday.
Yang said after the vote that her clients can appeal the decision but she does not know whether they will.
Lisa Buie can be reached at (813) 909-4604 or e-mail email@example.com.