City to halt development

Rapid growth in Zephyrhills over the last five years has caused concerns for local officials, so much so that the city will impose a moratorium on new residential development.

While the city calls it a “temporarily suspension of new residential land use actions,” it will be an opportunity to put on the brakes on new development to allow the city to study the city’s water use permit, land development regulations, and impact fees.

The moratorium, which will go into affect once a resolution is approved on its second reading June 26, will put a hold on future development. Current projects on the books will continue. According to information provided to city council, there are more than 7,500 units in development in the city’s utility service area including roughly 5,000 within the city limits.

“We’re trying to catch our breath,” said council president Lance Smith.

No duration of the moratorium has been determined. The action will halt future annexations, future land use map amendments, rezonings, conditional uses, variances, and petitions for major PUD modifications on property over one acre.

“We have to find a place to draw the line,” said councilman Ken Burgess. “The question is where that line is?”

The move came as a result of the May 15 City Council/Planning Commission workshop, where staff was directed to bring back information for the Council to consider the temporary suspension stopping future development so water concerns, infrastructure needs and services can be evaluated.

“The citizens are out there telling me that a trip through town took 10 minutes, now takes a half hour,” councilman Charlie Proctor said. “I feel for our policemen. The more developments, the more police we need.”

City Manager Billy Poe told members of council last night that in order for a moratorium on development to be valid, it must be adopted in good faith, for a limited duration, for the purpose of developing a plan to address a specific issue. Further, the local government must act expeditiously to address the issue.

There will be two public hearings before the City Council on June 12 and June 26.

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