Compatibility/Density

Last Updated May 2021

A zoning change is NOT a guaranteed right. Any property owner can request a change in zoning, but no change is guaranteed. The ultimate authority is the County Commission and they DO NOT have to grant a rezoning request.

However, if a zoning request is to be denied it must be on a substantive (defensible) basis. It cannot be arbitrary. Any zoning denial has to walk a fine line between appropriate planned development for the County and property rights of the developer/owner.

The term Master Planned Unit Development (MPUD) has a specific meaning in the industry. It is a type of building development and also a regulatory process. As a building development, it is a designed grouping of both varied and compatible land uses, such as housing, recreation, commercial centers, and industrial parks, all within one contained development or subdivision. It is generally to allow greater flexibility in the configuration of buildings and/or uses on a site than is allowed in standard zoning ordinances. (Urban Land Institute 2005)

In this specific case, this zoning is requested for solely one purpose; to increase the density/ intensity of building on any upland acres.

With only a passing bow to “open space” through storm water ponds, wetland setbacks, and minimal pocket parks, and with no real amenities or a commercial element, the true purpose for this zoning request is to increase the number of single family homes on an acre. With 1467 units, it does not meet the definition of a Planned Unit Development, but it does meet the definition of up zoning (to allow for a more dense use).

The map on the home page of Quail Hollow Alliance shows how incompatible this plan is with our neighborhoods. There are very small lots (40 x 100) jammed up against lots of ½ acre (Mangrove) and larger (Quail Hollow). The stark difference in size of lots is obvious.

Pasco County requires that rural neighborhood areas be treated “sensitively”. Sections of the Pasco County Comprehensive Plan (CP) and Land Development Code (LDR) address the concept of compatibility to avoid conflicts like what the map shows. In this case, long established residential communities – generally of larger acreage – around this proposed development of tiny clustered lots.

The developer will insist that this project is not urban density. This is not an argument for justifying what is clearly much higher density. It doesn’t matter what the density is called. Only that it is incompatible with what’s already here.

The highest density Pasco County residential zoning is R-4 (LDC, Section 517.5). That category allows for a minimum of 6,000 square feet of area with minimum lot sizes of 60 x 100 feet. This project asks for 40 x 100 feet which is smaller than Pasco’s highest residential zoning. This development may not meet the exact industry-wide definition of urban, but for our communities this density exceeds Pasco County’s definition of high density residential for single family homes.

In addition, the Urban Land Institute, a well-respected land use “think tank” has said,

“… higher density simply means new residential and commercial development at a density that is higher than what is typically found in the existing community. Thus, in a sprawling area with single-family detached houses on one-acre lots, single-family houses on one-fourth or one-eighth acre are considered higher density. In more densely populated areas with single-family houses on small lots, townhouses and apartments are considered higher-density development. (Urban Land Institute, Higher-Density Development – Myth and Fact, 2005)

Simply stating that a project is residential and therefore a compatible use to an existing residential community ignores the fact that the density is significantly incompatible.

This project does NOT comply with Pasco County’s Rural Neighborhood Protection Area (RNPA) rules. County rules call for limitations on the “intrusion of urban uses” (CP 2.3.2 through 2.3.5). It requires buffers and step-down density to make a project compatible with existing RNPA communities. The developer is proposing 40 foot wide buffers, but no step-down sizes.

The photo below is of a modest 60-foot wide house front located in Quail Hollow.

Note, this is not a lot front.

60-foot wide house

This is what a 40-foot wide lot front would do to this house.

House cut to 40 feet

Comprehensive Plan 2.3.3.b requires that protections use, “Methods of protecting rural neighborhoods from the sensory intrusions of adjacent nonresidential uses that may affect the long-term viability of those neighborhoods. Sensory intrusions include unwanted light, noise, physical access, odor, and other sources of disruptions.”

One point important to animal owners involves “physical access”. We are all familiar with people who feel that any animals near a fence are part of a petting zoo. Seriously, we don’t want our cows, goats, horses or even chickens bothered by people who find them either a curiosity or a nuisance.

Does any of this make you want to comment to the appropriate people? Contact us and someone from the Quail Hollow Alliance will call you to help you do that.