Whether you’re for it or against it, the Suncoast Parkway is going right through Citrus County, and county officials say now’s the time to plan for its impact.
The road to preparation starts Tuesday when county commissioners will hold a public workshop examining the effects of and opportunities arising from the toll road, which will be extended from U.S. 98 to State Road 44 and ultimately further.
The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) has finished a $40,000 study which identifies and evaluates existing and proposed alternative land uses and development patterns at and near the forthcoming interchanges at U.S. 98, West Cardinal Street and State Road 44. The council will present its findings at the workshop.
The study anticipates growth in the next 30 years. The objective is to protect environmental resources along those interchanges. Planners are also considering a potential interchange somewhere along C.R. 486.
The county’s new economic development website will also be unveiled at the workshop.
The workshop will begin at 9:30 a.m. at the Citrus County Courthouse, 110 North Apopka Avenue, Inverness.
The toll road’s extension to State Road 44 is scheduled to be completed in March 2022.
County Commission Jeff Kinnard said the board has three options: Do nothing and let the intersections “develop organically”; provide guidance for how they should develop; or pursue county-initiated rezoning — essentially an overlay district targeted to affected areas.
“An overlay, or county-initiated rezoning is very, very proactive and there would be a lot of pushback from property owners,” Kinnard said.
Kinnard said the board has the luxury of looking at the pros and cons of how development occurred in Hernando County when the Suncoast Parkway was expanded from the Veterans Expressway in Pasco County to U.S. 98.
Here is what the TBRPC study anticipates happening around the Cardinal Street and State Road 44 interchanges:
Cardinal Street interchange: There are a few industrial land uses and vacant commercial properties to the south of this intersection.
Without future land-use changes, the interchange area will be developed primarily with single-family homes and mobile homes. Because of the reliance on wells and septic tanks, development will likely be spotty.
“With more residential development than commercial development, the Cardinal Street interchange’s mix of land uses will contribute to a negative fiscal impact to the county,” the report states.
Instead, the report recommends a greater mix of residential and commercial uses.
State Road 44: Land-use changes and rezoning along this corridor will support the growth of the county’s target industries, including professional and service-oriented offices, the report states.
“Along with the existing commercial zone along S.R. 44, existing county design guidelines can buffer residential uses from industrial uses,” the report said.
The report said more discussion about rezoning land for more industrial uses near this interchange should occur.
County Road 486: “To the north of C.R. 486 lies a single-family subdivision with mostly vacant lots,” the report said.
By 2050, most or all of that vacant property should be developed. Commercial development should be limited.
“For residents seeking a rural lifestyle, C.R. 486 without land use changes will maintain that rural character,” the report said.
While no official alignment has been agreed on, a likely route may follow the Duke Energy right of way, ending at C.R. 486 and continuing north. Future residential development could occur by connections to county sewer and water. But under existing land use restrictions, commercial development is limited.
“However, there is a strip of land to the east of the Duke Energy right of way that could be re-designated for light industrial uses in the future,” the report said.
The entire report, and the commission agenda, are available at https://bit.ly/2KdoqWp.