Concerns about the future of the city’s water supply and the current state of traffic in the community has some city officials looking to “pump the brakes” on future developments.
After hearing the city’s water demands have increased dramatically due to explosive development over the last five years, some members of City Council aren’t quick to approve new developments that will further tax the water supply.
The word moratorium was used in conversation, but no members of council were willing to slam on the brakes.
Councilman Ken Burgess, the most vocal about the water situation, said something needs to addressed soon instead of waiting until the situation is critical.
“We need to pause and take a breath and look at this,” Burgess said. “This has to be addressed. Traffic is the easiest to see, but water is the most important thing. I am not anti-development by any means. We have more than 2,000 units calculated into our entitlements already.”
Prior to hearing proposed conditional use requests for a pair of apartment developments that would add a combined 384 units in the city, planning director Todd Vade Berg explained the city’s water current water demands and what the future could hold.
“We realize water is a resource that is becoming more diminishing as we move forewar and that’s not just Zephyrhills, but in the state of Florida,” Vande Berg said. “We are working very hard to be creative with the water situation that we’re involved with.”
Vende Berg said current development has the city well within its mandate water entitlements of 3.3 million gallons a day using just 2.6 million per day. New development coming could account for another 630,000 gallons per day, leaving the city at just 170,000 remaining under the entitlement limit.
“Anticipated development could put us over the permitted allowance,” Vande Berg added.
Once the conditional use requests were heard for market-value apartments on Fort King Road and at Pretty Pond Road and Wire Road, the topic of traffic joined the water concerns.
Rumbling from residents about the increase of traffic in Zephyrhills has reached the ears of city council members.
“I get several calls a week about what we’re going to do about traffic,” Councilman Charlie Proctor. “It’s a tough question to answer. We can’t wave a magic wand and make traffic better. We’re in an incredible growth time. What concerns me about this project is traffic and water.”
The conditional use requests for both projects ask for the apartments to go from two-story to four-story buildings without increasing the number of units. Both projects are actually allowed to put 20 units per acre, but they are designed at 13.5 units per acre.
City will look for guidance from the Southwest Florida Water Management District to address the situation.