Officials call development surges in Pasco Co. ‘smart growth,’ some residents disagree

Pasco County

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (WFLA) – Pasco County is filled with new businesses, homes and traffic, which county officials say is smart growth, but not all residents agree.

Development in Pasco County is surging, whether it’s businesses, homes or retail stores. A lot of that development is going on on State Roads 54 and 56.

“It’s been a mess since day one,” taxi driver, Bruce Britton, said.

Britton owns Bruce and Mikes Taxi Driving Service and drives on State Roads 56 and 54 daily. He believes the constant traffic back up is because of the recent growth.

“It takes forever and a day to get somewhere,” Britton said. “When you look here you have two malls going on. You’ve got the outlet mall and the Wiregrass malls. The next thing that’s going to pop up is apartment after apartment after apartment. How many thousands of cars are you going to put on the road?”

According to Pasco County records, 4,526 building permits were issued from Oct. 1, 2018, to Sept. 30, 2019. Bill Cronin, the president and CEO of Pasco’s Economic Development Center, says all of the recent growth has been smart growth.

“We are seeing industry come to our area because they have got talent, education, we have good transportation,” Cronin said. “We also have to realize a lot of these projects have been in the works for years.”

Cronin says the growth boosts Pasco’s economy. Last year, 593 jobs were created, which led to more than $70 million in capital investment. Cronin said he realizes it looks like a lot of growth, but he says the county says they won’t just build anything.

“We can’t just continue to grow for the sake of growing, we got to make sure it’s smart, we have to make sure that the infrastructure is there,” Cronin said. “Not just a job for the sake of a job and not just investment for the sake of investment, but we want to grow certain clusters, life sciences being one of those advanced manufacturing, aviation aerospace, those are the kind of things that will make this community more dynamic and more competitive with the rest of the United States.”

Britton thinks the county will accept any builder as long as that builder has money.

“If you have the money, doesn’t matter what it looks like, doesn’t matter what it is, build it,” Britton said.

Cronin says the county is creating a live, work, play community, which he hopes takes people off the road.

“You have a true live, work, play in that community,” Cronin said. “That means the people that live there don’t have to get on the road every day, they can actually work in their same community and shop and enjoy a high quality of life.”

Cronin says the county is open to hearing feedback on any development project. He encourages people to attend public hearings so that their voices can be heard.

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