Editor’s note: In October, former county commissioner Dennis Damato presented the idea for development of a Citrus County Area of Economic Opportunity in the “sweet spot” of the county around the Suncoast Parkway’s State Road 44 interchange at the Fire Up Citrus event. The site would be shovel-ready for development and provide a blueprint for future growth.
The following is the second of three installments laying out the plan.
With the Suncoast Parkway Extension currently under construction, and the County Road 491 roadway expansion project underway, now is the time to reformulate, modify, modernize and simplify our Comprehensive Land Use Plan (Comp Plan), General Future Land Use Map (GFLUM), and Land Development Code (LDC).
The original regulations were initiated during the 1980s and are pushing 40 years old.
They are widely viewed as archaic, outdated, hard to understand, difficult to follow, and filled with a patch quilt of amendments over a long period of time.
You need to keep in mind that since its inception so many things have changed:
-- There was limited use of personal computing, the internet, cell phones, tablets, and smart phones;
-- County Road 486 did not exist in its current form;
-- State Road 44 was up-graded to a four lane highway county wide;
-- The Suncoast Parkway Extension did not exist;
-- The Citrus County Utility System was being formulated;
-- The paved non-motorized pedestrian trail network was not in service;
-- FEMA regulations and county impact fees were in their infancy;
-- New Developments of Regional Impact (DRI) residential communities of Meadowcrest, Black Diamond Ranch, The Villages of Citrus Hills / Terra Vista were just starting up; and
-- Business, community, government, and social functions and institutions have evolved over time.
Since the inception of the county codes and regulations, many physical assets were upgraded and put in place that we can and should build upon.
We need a new, modern, up-to-date, simplified method to plan, manage, construct and sustain both new growth and redevelopment to this community’s unique standards.
All new development, redevelopment, and adaptive reuse must be in total harmony with what is here and upgrades the quality of life we all enjoy and desire.
New land use standards should be viewed as the vehicle that takes us where we want to be as a county.
Our land use regulations should be based on the principles of “Smart Growth” and be “Form Based Codes” that build upon the desirable assets we have in place in an organized manner which places development where it needs to be. We do not currently utilize or enjoy that process or the benefits it produces.
Orderly, aesthetically pleasing, sustainable development and redevelopment with respect to all that surrounds it including the environment should be the new methodology we utilize moving forward.
This formula has enjoyed tremendous success in many successful communities.
It can be a solution we utilize to guide Citrus County’s future.
A “Long View” new look at land regulations use will help introduce and reinforce concepts that enjoy an excellent track record in many places with similar characteristics as ours. They include:
-- Mixed-use commercial/Residential development;
-- Town centers;
-- Village centers;
-- Florida quality development;
-- Tourism, recreational and visitor supported uses;
-- Resort style development/housing;
-- Higher density residential uses for all income levels;
-- Site plan control principles;
-- Strategies to deal with enhanced FEMA building standards/regulations;
-- Economic development areas.
How Do We Get There?
The Citrus County Board of Commissioners issues a “Request for Proposal” based on staff input seeking a national expert on the defined subject matter with a proven track record of successful outcomes for communities with similar conditions we have in Citrus County.
The approach should be a “Smart Growth” and “Form Based” platform based on the following methodology: This is what we started with, here is what it has produced, and where do we need to be in the short-, mid- and long-term as a county.
The new work product must be simple; streamlined; easy to understand and work with; filled with pictures, graphics and diagrams; address our strengths and weaknesses; and be in harmony with our natural environmentally sensitive land and water ways.
The public and all stakeholders must be fully and continuously engaged during the entire process to assure accountability and transparency.
One possible planning scenario would be to address the comp plan and land development code initially to set the standards.
When those tasks are defined and completed the General Future Land Use Map can be reformulated to place all development into a proper perspective.
This new overview of where we are, and where we desire to be as a nature based community is the most important exercise Citrus County can undertake at this time.
“A failure to plan, is a plan to fail.”
There is way too much at stake not to move forward with this effort to guide Citrus County’s future.