Pasco commissioners did taxpayers a favor when they decided to follow their own land use rules to approve the Oaks at Riverside apartment complex rather than bow to political pressure. Failing to do so would have just invited indefensible and potentially costly litigation.
Two months ago, a divided commission dubiously remanded the 102-unit project to its staff for further review of drainage plans — even though objecting neighbors had not cited stormwater concerns in their appeal of prior county approval. But after a sometimes contentious hearing Tuesday, Commissioner Jack Mariano correctly switched his vote and joined Commissioners Kathryn Starkey and Ted Schrader in approving the project that is to be amid a neighborhood of single-family homes.
Commissioners simply had no legal reason to deny the apartments on properly zoned land.
Notably, the arguments from opponents, including Tax Collector Mike Fasano and state Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, about flooding concerns were undermined by neighbors' past acquiescence to putting 102 town homes on the 41-acre site.
Why would apartments cause more flooding troubles than town homes? They wouldn't. And to suggest otherwise hints at an economic bigotry toward apartment dwellers.
This prolonged debate should give commissioners pause. If their land-use code fails to adequately account for neighborhood compatibility then the commission should expedite a rewrite to limit future conflicts. Likewise, if flooding is a legitimate problem in adjoining neighborhoods, residents should be demanding a fix instead of blaming people who don't even live there yet.
Similar entanglements could arise in the future because in-fill development is a key component of Pasco's long-term strategy to rejuvenate its aging western corridor.
The county needs to be prepared to answer public concerns that routinely arise whenever new construction abuts existing homes and businesses.