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Dade City laying plans for inevitable growth

(ran North, East editions)

Two thousand homes approved. Another 2,500 proposed.

City officials on Tuesday took a big-picture look at the development marching toward them and decided to meet again and set formal policies governing growth.

"I just want to make sure we don't get inundated with dwelling units," city attorney and planner Karla Owens told the City Commission.

The board will meet again Feb. 28 to put policies on the books addressing issues such as minimum home lot size, density of new neighborhoods and requirements for schools and roads around development.

"(We) can make darn sure that stuff coming in in the future is adequately planned for," Mayor Hutch Brock said.

Annexation of territory is a voluntary move by the city - it can legally tell developers no - but Owens said that won't necessarily halt growth. Developers still can push their projects under Pasco County's jurisdiction.

In that case, Owens said the city could weigh in, particularly because in many cases the city would be responsible for providing utilities in developments even beyond its borders.

"I feel comfortable that we can open the doors of conversation with the county," Owens said.

Pat Carver, who lives in a rural area off St. Joe Road, said after the meeting she was glad to see plans being laid.

"You do need to plan ahead or you're going to find yourself in a mess," she said.

Sally Redden, another St. Joe Road resident, said transportation was her main concern.

"We just want to make sure that we can drive down that road in the future," she said.

City Manager Harold Sample pointed out the stark change in the last couple of years: "Isn't it amazing that we're sitting here having this discussion? Two years ago we were saying "where in the world is (the growth)?"