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Landowners in the Central Pasco Employment Village debate development plans

One man worries another isn’t playing fair with his neighbors.
The Central Pasco Employment Village, comprised of 2,400 acres to the south of State Road 52, is now at the center of public debate over which should come first: businesses that bring jobs, or housing for people needed to work those jobs.
The Central Pasco Employment Village, comprised of 2,400 acres to the south of State Road 52, is now at the center of public debate over which should come first: businesses that bring jobs, or housing for people needed to work those jobs. [ Pasco County ]
Published Jun. 15|Updated Jun. 15

NEW PORT RICHEY — When the county approved the sprawling 2,400-acre Central Pasco Employment Village a dozen years ago, the idea was to have a group of land-owning neighbors agree to a shared development plan to create a centralized hub for jobs.

But the devil is always in the details.

As pieces of that village begin to come together, hard feelings have developed among a couple of the landowners, as was demonstrated in May at a Pasco Planning Commission meeting. There, the owner of the D&D Ranch of Pasco County, Andy Scaglione, accused neighbor George Southworth of 3KS Family LLLP of taking too big a slice of the available commercial pie.

He also said that Southworth had changed the location of a proposed road abutting his property without notice, making a swath of Scaglione’s land potentially undevelopable, and that Southworth had leveled trees on his own property that should not have been cut.

D&D Ranch of Pasco County owner Andy Scaglione said his next-door neighbor, George Southworth, improperly cleared trees as he prepares to develop his land in the Central Pasco Employment Village. Southworth said he is just replacing grazing land and has an agricultural right to do so.
D&D Ranch of Pasco County owner Andy Scaglione said his next-door neighbor, George Southworth, improperly cleared trees as he prepares to develop his land in the Central Pasco Employment Village. Southworth said he is just replacing grazing land and has an agricultural right to do so. [ Andy Scaglione ]

Southworth was seeking another 300,000 square feet of commercial use on his land, added to 200,000 already awarded to an adjacent parcel to the east that he recently sold. Combined, that would mean his commercial entitlements on those two parcels would far exceed his allotment, based on the formula worked out with all of the employment village property owners.

“That’s just not equitable,” said engineer Daniel Bergin of Civil on Demand, who filed the objection to the application on Scaglione’s behalf. He called Southworth’s request “extremely unbalanced” and told planning commissioners that the idea of the employment village agreement was for all landowners to fairly share limited available development rights.

Southworth and his development team dispute those accusations.

On Thursday, the Planning Commission is taking its second shot at trying to resolve the disagreements and move the application for rezoning on the 321-acre site to the County Commission for a final decision.

At the May meeting, Southworth and his team said they planned to turn much of their commercial entitlements over to the larger group of employment village property owners to share once the county removes a cap on industrial development in the village. They also said the road location was just a concept in the planning stages and that tree clearing was allowed to provide grazing for livestock on what is currently agricultural land.

Southworth and his planner, Cynthia Spidell, said the concept plan for the site has been available for review since a public meeting several months ago. They said changes in the road alignment and the application to give back commercial construction entitlements on the first parcel should have been no surprise because the formal paperwork to do so had already been filed.

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The Planning Commission suggested that the parties meet to work out their differences. Scaglione said this week that after phone calls with Southworth, no resolution could be reached on the road location. He also met with the Southwest Florida Water Management District and state Fish and Wildlife Commission representatives to report the site work on Southworth’s property, which he said could be harming wetlands.

The water management district issued Southworth a warning letter on Tuesday to stop work at this time.

The application that planning commissioners will consider on Thursday includes 2 million square feet of corporate business park and industrial uses, which was not in dispute, and 150,000 square feet of commercial uses.

Southworth’s 3KS Family sold the adjacent property to the east to Amazon.com Services LLC for $11.8 million in December, according to property records. In January, Amazon announced plans for a $150 million, 517,220-square-foot facility in the employment village for a new robotic-sorting facility that it says will produce 500 jobs.

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