1. News

Pasco commissioners approve protections for rural, northeast part of county

DADE CITY — After a decade-long delay, Pasco County commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance Tuesday designed to maintain the rural qualities of the northeast portion of the county.

The ordinance governs residential development along scenic roads winding among 66,000 acres and 15,000 people in an area bordered by Bellamy Brothers Boulevard on the west, the Green Swamp on the east, State Road 52 on the south and the Hernando County line on the north.

The ordinance protects topography by limiting mining and land grading, and sets landscape and lighting standards for residential developments to preserve vistas and so-called "view sheds."

The county dubbed the area its northeast rural protection area 10 years ago and embedded into its comprehensive land plan the goals of preserving the existing rural and agricultural characteristics. After a 10-year delay, the ordinance now allows the county to enforce those goals on future developments.

The rules do not yet apply to commercial businesses, and the county plans to exclude a corridor along U.S. 301, an area targeted for employment centers and commercial development, and the intersection of Happy Hill Road and State Road 52.

Not everyone was pleased.

"I don't think there should be a need for the county to tell me what I can do on property that I've owned for 10 years,'' said George Dombrowski of Sweetwater Road.

Others, however, supported the measure.

"This is going to be your jewel,'' said Nancy Hazelwood, who suggested that the rural protections will help turn Pasco into a destination for the rest of Florida.