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Waiting for Pasco: Tampa council delays K-Bar Ranch housing

Tampa City Council members appear hesitant to give a green light for up to 700 more houses in New Tampa unless Pasco County agrees to connect key roads around K-Bar Ranch development.
2007 Times File photo of the 30-foot stretch left to link between Kinnan Street and Mansfield Boulevard.
2007 Times File photo of the 30-foot stretch left to link between Kinnan Street and Mansfield Boulevard.
Published May 3, 2018

The Tampa City Council decided Thursday to wait on Pasco County's next move regarding connecting crucial roads between booming New Tampa and Wesley Chapel.

Council members agreed to delay a final vote to June 28 on a proposal to place up to 700 new homes in K-Bar Ranch, 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 the 30-foot stretch of no-man's land between Kinnan Street in New Tampa and Mansfield Boulevard in Pasco County.

Pasco and Tampa have been in a stand 0ff 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 New Tampa traffic.

"We have a constant crisis in this area. 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," said council member Luis Viera, who represents New Tampa.

With Chairman Frank Reddick and council member Guido Maniscalco absent, the remaining five council members suggested slowing down the pace of the rezoning request. It became clear the council didn't have four votes to approve the project.

Charlie Miranda appeared ready to join at least 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 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," Miranda said.

After the vote, a Pasco County Commissioner 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," said Mike Moore.

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 as long as 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, we can't make them," said Melanie Calloway, a Tampa senior transportation planning engineer.