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Pasco wants parks, playgrounds

A proposal would require housing developers to plan and pay for parks in subdivisions.

By JAMES THORNER

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 14, 2000


Playgrounds and parks may be mandatory in all future Pasco County housing developments marketed to younger families, County Administrator John Gallagher said Thursday.

Gallagher said the proposed ordinance, which may be ready for approval within six months, recognizes that Pasco is no longer simply a retiree haven.

"The county's getting younger," Gallagher said during Thursday's Development Review Committee meeting in New Port Richey. "The regional park sites are far away."

Most developers of large subdivisions already provide playgrounds as part of their amenity packages for residents.

The county's unofficial policy has been to require developers to donate park land to the county for every 100 homes.

Gallagher said the new ordinance is a shift in philosophy. Whereas the county once financed large regional parks such as the Land O'Lakes Recreation Complex, the new push is for builders to pony up the cost of smaller local parks.

"I'd like to make subdivisions be responsible," Gallagher said. "It would be the responsibility of homeowners associations to maintain the parks."

The ordinance would apply only to subdivisions catering to younger families, many of which are clustered in central Pasco and offer three- or four-bedroom houses.

Gallagher suggested exempting developments catering to retirees, including many mobile home parks, condominiums and subdivisions dominated by two-bedroom, single-family houses.

County officials said the parks ordinance may be just one of several new regulations designed to toughen requirements for developers.

At Thursday's meeting, for example, the development committee flirted with, but ultimately shelved, a proposal mandating that builders pave roads with an asphalt substitute called open-graded emulsion mix.

Mike Nurrenbrock, director of the county's Office of Management and Budget, said the expense might discourage developers from moving to Pasco.

So be it, said county attorney Robert Sumner, who complained that the county has let too many people build homes without improving nearby roads.

"Those are things we can't allow to keep proliferating," Sumner told the committee.

Gallagher urged county staffers to investigate changes to the paving requirements "post haste."

In other business, the committee rejected a proposal from the state Department of Transportation to build two wireless communications towers.

The committee ruled the towers, which the DOT wanted to build in partnership with a company called Lodestar Towers Inc., were intrusions in their respective neighborhoods.

One 180-foot tower was proposed for State Road 52 and Key Lime Drive near Moon Lake. The DOT wanted to build another, 170-foot tower near SR 39 and Pattie Road in Crystal Springs.

Sumner said allowing the towers would be a mistake in light of the county's attempt to beautify highways by banning billboards. Final rejection of the towers would have to come from the county commissioners.

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