By: Patrick Mullen
WESLEY CHAPEL, FL. – A public Mediation is scheduled for 9 A.M. on Monday, 4/25/2022 at the Historic Courthouse at 37918 Meridian Ave, Dade City, FL 33525.
The meeting is being held in response to the SD, LLC Request for Mediation of Pasco County’s Denial of the Developer’s proposal to rezone Seven Oaks CDD Parcel S-19 (the Commercial land next to the SR56/581 Sam’s Club) to build a vertical mixed-use development of retail and office space with 320 apartments, at least 640 vehicles and over 1000 residents.
Led by a Special Magistrate, the meeting will address issues raised in the Request for Mediation, the County’s rebuttal, and alternatives, variances, and other types of adjustments to the S-19 rezoning application including denial.
Because the proceedings will use “break-out” sessions, all participation must be in-person. The public is encouraged to attend but only those who previously requested participation in the proceedings/their group representatives will have the opportunity to comment. Pasco citizens with yet unidentified concerns/suggestions may forward them to Chief Assistant County Attorney David Goldstein via email@example.com.
Additional Mediation meetings may be scheduled if needed. Opportunities to comment on any tentative agreement on any settlement terms will be provided. If Mediation is unsuccessful, a Hearing will be announced to conclude the Mediation phase and the Special Magistrate will issue a non-binding Recommendation.
In any case, Pasco’s Goldstein has made it clear that “unless the [result of the Mediation phase] is some version of preserving the status quo (the site only being permitted for office or retail uses), it would require additional action by the [Board of County Commissioners] after a duly noticed public hearing.”
We live in a free republic based on capitalism. That includes Developers building apartments to make money. But despite a recent fixation on spot-zoning [p. 21] and vertical mixed-use apartment buildings, it is Government’s responsibility to meet the needs of all of its citizens, both corporate and human.
There are other apartment-appropriate parcels available better positioned to serve Pasco and the employees of the nearby Lexus, Toyota, Mitsubishi, Advent, Bay Care, and Blue Heron facilities. Wesley Chapel welcomes their development and the completion of the Sam’s Club shopping center in accordance with the County’s Comprehensive Plan.
The Developer’s proposal was presented at the 1/11/2022 Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting. It was met with astute analysis and overwhelming community opposition. As a result, the BCC voted 3-2 to deny the proposal [p. 23-24] as detailed in Resolution 22-25RZ. On 2/9/2022, the Developer requested Mediation while threatening 2 Commissioners and the County Clerk and promising litigation should the Mediation fail. On 2/24/2022, the County responded with a rebuttal that re-affirmed the Denial. A Special Magistrate was appointed and the Mediation phase is underway. Chief Assistant County Attorney David Goldstein has said that “the hearing phase will be addressed at a later date, and only if mediation is unsuccessful.”
In accordance with Florida Statute 70.51, the process is mandated to end before August although the parties could extend, reach an agreement, or withdraw from the proceedings at any time. The Developer/County will then have a number of options.
They could, for example, agree to a modified proposal, reach a settlement, or accept the Recommendation. Absent agreement to change, the Developer could propose a new zoning-compliant retail/office project, sell the property to the County or a Commercial developer or even file suit hoping a Court would overturn the County’s robust re-zoning Denial.
In any case, “Development is a privilege” not a right. (Trent Meredith, Inc. vs. City of Oxnard, 114 CAL. App. 3d 317 (1981)).