Environmentally destructive projects in Pasco County

Proposed Ridge Road Extension (RRE)

This environmentally destructive project was originally proposed in 1998 and would cause the 6,500-acre Serenova Preserve, part of the over 19,000-acre Starkey-Serenova Preserve, to be bisected. It would destroy almost 60 acres of wetland ecosystems. The Serenova Preserve was created as mitigation for wetland destruction that occurred as a result of the construction of the Suncoast Parkway. All of the wildlife surveys and wetland assessments are now outdated and must be done over. The Environmental Protection Agency has opposed this project for over a decade, maintaining there are less environmentally destructive alternatives, such as widening SR’s 54 & 52. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has expressed concern that the Florida Scrub Jay, the Eastern Indigo snake, and the woodstorks, all threatened or endangered species, would be adversely affected. The National Marine Fisheries Service has concerns regarding the Anclote and Cotee River estuaries receiving pollutants downstream from polluted ‘sheet flow’ draining off of the proposed RRE during major rain events. The FDOT and TBARTA both are now proposing a 10-lane SR 54, with 4 lanes a limited access, managed-lane, toll road. This alternative would result in almost no wetland impacts. It is time Pasco County abandon the proposed RRE. Events have overtaken this now outdated project.


SunWest County Park

The SunWest County Park application for a dredge and fill permit was denied by the Army Corps of Engineers in May of 2013. An application for an adjacent development called SunWest Harbourtowne is still pending before the Army Corps. This development comprises 585 acres, not including wetlands, and would reduce wildlife habitat for such state listed species as the Florida black bear and the Gopher tortoise. The most important federally listed species that were observed on the site that could be adversely affected are the Eastern indigo snake, Piping plover and the Florida scrub jay. There are other alternatives to constructing new boat ramps within a new county park when other boat ramps currently existing in western Pasco County can easily be enlarged.


Cypress Creek Town Center (CCTC)

This proposed project comprises over 500 acres and borders the Cypress Creek, a state-designated Outstanding Florida Water afforded special protection because of its natural attributes. It is also one of several tributaries to the Hillsborough River, the main source of drinking water for the City of Tampa. In 2007 the Army Corps fined the developer $297,000 for violating the Clean Water Act by allowing muddy water to pour into Cypress Creek and for destroying a wetland ecosystem adjacent to I-75. A 2011 Federal Appeals Court ordered the Corps to make a determination on how the project would affect wildlife habitat fragmentation, specifically for the eastern indigo snake. The southern boundary of the mall property along Cypress Creek is also a designated wildlife corridor. This is a poorly designed project with too many outdoor parking spaces which will allow runoff containing hydrocarbons, mercury and other harmful heavy metals into the Cypress Creek during major rain events. The developer refuses to construct a parking garage to reduce that runoff into Cypress Creek.