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Revamped Pasco Planning Commission will need minimal introductions

ALICE HERDEN | Special to the Times The historic Pasco County Courthouse in Dade City where Pasco Commissioners met Tuesday to approve an ordinance disbanding its Development Review Committee. The board also named the members to the newly revamped Planning Commission.
ALICE HERDEN | Special to the Times The historic Pasco County Courthouse in Dade City where Pasco Commissioners met Tuesday to approve an ordinance disbanding its Development Review Committee. The board also named the members to the newly revamped Planning Commission.
Published Jul. 11, 2018

DADE CITY — Meet the new board. Same as the old board.

Almost.

The revamped six-member Pasco Planning Commission, which will serve as the elected commissioners' only advisory board on land-use issues, will include four of the current Planning Commission members.

Tuesday, county commissioners formally disbanded the Development Review Committee and established the Planning Commission as its Land Planning Agency to make recommendations on land-use matters.

As part of the ordinance, the Planning Commission, formerly a 10-person body, plus a representative of the Pasco School District, was reduced to six people and the school board designee. County commissioners picked current Planning Commission members Jamie Girardi, Chuck Grey, Peter Hanzel and Kevin Ryman to remain on the board. Additionally, Dennis Smith, a 15-year member of the Planning Commission, was designated as an alternate choice.

Twenty-nine people applied to serve on the board, and commissioners selected from a list that was narrowed to 15 people, including eight current Planning Commission members who sought reappointment. The only debate surrounded the choice of Smith as alternate. Commissioner Kathryn Starkey wanted to include current Planning Commission member Jim Goodchild on the list, but Smith had the support of both Commissioners Mike Moore and Ron Oakley.

Smith would have stepped in if former County Commissioner Michael Cox had been unable to serve. Cox also is a member of the Florida Ethics Commission and is prohibited by state law from holding two offices simultaneously. Cox said Tuesday he would retain the state position and likely be elevated to chairman, if he was reappointed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O' Lakes.

"I'd like to serve on it (Planning Commission), but clearly it's duel office-holding,'' Cox said Tuesday. Former Speaker Will Weatherford appointed Cox to the state Ethics Commission in July 2014. Corcoran reappointed him in February 2017.

On Wednesday, Cox said he learned that Corcoran was not reappointing him to the state Ethics Commission, making the discussion moot.

Still, the Planning Commission will have at least one new member. Commissioners also named Roberto Saez to the panel. Saez, of Wesley Chapel, is owner and principal of a construction and engineering firm and formerly served as a senior construction project manager for Pasco County.

The demise of the Development Review Committee, which formerly consisted of top county administrators plus members from the Pasco Economic Development Council and the school district, had been proposed for several years.

In 2008, the Urban Land Institute recommended the county disband the review committee, known commonly by the acronym of DRC, to streamline the development-review process. Earlier this year, the Pasco Economic Development Council withdrew from the committee to avoid potential conflicts with its business-recruitment efforts.

Commissioners agreed and unanimously approved an ordinance assigning the DRC's duties to the reconfigured Pasco Planning Commission.

"One overdue 'Aye,' '' Starkey said in supporting the ordinance.

The newly appointed panel will hold its first meeting July 26. Its assignment is to review proposed development projects, zoning and land-use issues to ensure compliance with the county's comprehensive land-use plan and other local controls.

The board is advisory only and final authority rests with the elected commissioners.

Reach C.T. Bowen at ctbowen@tampabay.com or (813) 435-7306. Follow @CTBowen2

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