Pasco County officials tackle spike in development, residents

By Sarah Blazonis, Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 31, 2018, 6:25 PM EST

Pasco County is working to keep up with a spike in development and residents.

  • County officials work to keep up w/ rising development
  • Officials say lower taxes, recovering economy draw to area
  • Growth also puts strain on count services

“Two to one, it’s good for the county,” said County Administrator Dan Biles.

Biles said Pasco issued 50 percent more home building permits in 2017 than 2016 for a total of 3,800.

“It’s pretty significant when you put real people numbers into that. You’re talking 10,000 people just in those new houses,” he said. “That’s not growth going into multi-family, that’s not growth going into resales or builds from ’16. So, that’s a lot.”

Real estate broker Jennie Sammur with the Central Pasco Association of Realtors said her firm Dabar & Associates Real Estate Services has definitely seen an increased demand for homes in Pasco County.

“The main demand has been a shortage on inventory for middle class homes in the price range for what we would consider a middle class family,” she said.

Both Biles and Sammur said the county has a number of draws: lower taxes than Hillsborough or Pinellas Counties but close proximity to both, the recovering economy, and other development.

Sammur said particularly in the Wesley Chapel area, features like the Tampa Premium Outlets, Florida Hospital Center Ice and Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel have helped spur growth.

“All that draws traffic, draws people to set shop and set shop in many ways — business-wise, professionally or personally,” she said.

But that growth has also put a strain on services offered by the county. For instance, Pasco Schools is working to rezone West Pasco schools due to overcrowding.

Biles said the county’s raised school impact fees on new developments to try to help the district.

There are other areas the county’s working on as well.

“We have things that we’re working on on the transportation side to mitigate the impacts of the growth,” Biles said. “Sometimes it lags a little bit, but we are working on that.

The intersection of State Route 54 and US 41 in Land O' Lakes is one spot he said the county hopes to work with the DOT on to alleviate heavy traffic.

Biles said growth is also being seen in traditionally rural areas of the county that will need better emergency services coverage. He said construction will begin on Fire Station 38 across from the Crystal Lagoon and Epperson Ranch housing development in Wesley Chapel later this year.

The water and wastewater systems are another area he said officials are keeping their eye on, even though he said the system is ready for county growth.