Pasco County took the first step last week toward allowing up to 2.26 million square feet of industrial space on property west of the Suncoast Parkway.
The Planning Commission recommended approval of a land use change that would allow that kind and amount of new construction.
Greenfield Place West Industrial had proposed a change in the county’s comprehensive plan for growth that moves away from residential and toward industrial development. It would affect 104 acres on the west side of the parkway and 1.5 miles north of State Road 52.
Before that request could be considered at Thursday’s Planning Commission hearing, the applicant’s representative, Barbara Wilhite, submitted a proposal to add another 195 acres adjacent to that parcel, from the same owner, to be considered at the same time, tripling the size.
The proposal now goes to the Pasco County Commission.
Wilhite said that the combined projects will give Pasco an inventory of 300 industrial acres, “which is what the county so desires and needs.”
With the extra parcel added, she said, the site would attract wider interest beyond companies seeking 10- or 20-acre sites.
“You have the ability to see something big here,” she said.
The property is located in an area identified as appropriate for industrial development in a study prepared last year by the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. According to that report, which was requested by the county Planning Department, the area might be worth exploring for use as an “industrial sanctuary.”
It suggested locations that “follow major truck routes and freight lines within proximity to existing clusters of industrial land,” according to the planning commission agenda packet.
The study, prompted by concerns that Pasco’s rapid residential growth could be consuming acreage suited for industrial development, recommended several actions. One of those was to establish “an industrial … sanctuary of at least 2,000 acres of land parcels greater than 50 acres.”
Switching to light industrial is a better choice than keeping it residential, said Clarke Hobby, who represents several industrial projects. Light industrial is a very good job-creating land use, he said.
The new site is located in proximity to another industrial project that late last year received $958,000 in public incentives for a plastics manufacturing firm now based in Bronx, New York.
While county officials and the developer touted the benefits of industrial expansion, nearby residents expressed concern about the negative effect on their lives.
Jen Kerouac said Shady Hills Road has four schools and increasing traffic. Adding more cars to the road and more strangers in an area with insufficient lighting brings up safety concerns for children, she said. While she said that it was good to hear that development could bring needed jobs to the area, “it’s become very dangerous,” she said.
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Neighborhood resident Steve White said traffic to the schools alone backs up roadways.
When he bought his property in 1987, he said he thought he had found the perfect retirement spot. Everything added since then spoils it, from the congestion to the constant sound of the Suncoast Parkway traffic to the stench of the county’s garbage plant, he said.