Development Services FAQ

Q: How does the City benefit from annexation?
A: Aside from an increased tax base, the City benefits by being able to control its fate - by being able to influence the type and quality of development that occurs and by being able to maintain that quality. The City also benefits because certain state and federal funding formulas are based on total population. Uniform city limit lines also help eliminate confusion over service boundaries - for example by being able to clearly determine law enforcement jurisdiction.

Q: But I don't want to pay more taxes. Won't annexation mean more money out of my pocket each year?
A: Not necessarily. Although City property taxes will be assessed in addition to county taxes, the City's millage rate is low - only $5.9999 per $1,000 of assessed value - and certain fees and charges are eliminated which is some cases can offset all or most of the increased tax bill. For example, the annual county fire service tax is eliminated upon annexation. Also, county residents that have city water and sewer would see a reduction to the city rates.

Q: Why would I want to consider annexing my property into the City of Zephyrhills?

A: Generally speaking, urban services are better in the City. Police response times are shorter and patrols more frequent. Properties within the City receive priority fire response. A stronger code enforcement program assures safer, more attractive neighborhoods. The infrastructure-streets, sidewalks, sewer and water systems - is better maintained. The parks and recreation programs are superior. There is also a greater level of urban planning with strict land use and zoning regulations, subdivision controls and design standards that result in a more stable land use pattern with fewer conflicts. All of this translates into higher property values and a better quality of life.

Perhaps even more important, annexation means having a voice in City government and an opportunity to be a part of a growing and changing community.
Annexation form: /files//annexation.pdf

Q: How does property get annexed?
A: First of all, the property to be annexed must be contiguous, that is, it must touch the current city limits, and it must be "reasonably compact." As a practical matter, the property must also make sense in terms of service delivery. For example, under normal circumstances the City would not consider annexing one lot in a residential subdivision. Rather, the City would consider annexing the entire subdivision.

Property can be annexed by different methods. Property owners can initiate voluntary annexation of contiguous property by submitting a petition signed by all of the affected property owners. The property is annexed upon the approval of an annexation ordinance by the City Council. The City can initiate annexation by conducting an annexation referendum of registered voters within the area proposed for annexation. The City may also annex small enclaves of ten acres or less through an interlocal agreement with Pasco County. (Enclaves are areas of county jurisdiction that are completely surrounded by the City.)

Q: How can I find out more information about annexation?
A: Please contact Todd VandeBerg, Director of Development or Rodney Corriveau, Assistant City Planner.

Q: What is the Comprehensive Plan?
A: The Comprehensive Plan is a ten-year blueprint for future growth of the City. It examines relevant information such as population projections, the pattern of existing development, the suitability of land for development, the capicity of public facilites to serve future development, and the financial capacity of the City to make improvements to those facilites. It establishes official City policies toward land use and growth. It includes a Future Land Use Map that regulates the general type of land use that is allowed (commercial, industrial, residential, etc.) and the maximum density (living units per acre) or intensity (square feet of building area) of those uses. The State of Florida requires all counties and municipalities to adopt comprehensive plans. All land use decisions made by the City must be in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan.

Q: I've heard that the Comprehensive Plan is made up of different chapters. What are they?
A: By law, the Comprehensive Plan must include the following elements: Future Land Use, Transportation, Infrastructure (water, wastewater, drainage etc.), Recreation and Open Space, Conservation, Housing, Intergovermental Coordination, and Capital Improvements.

Q: How often is the Comprehensive Plan updated?
A: Certain components, like the Capital Improvements Program, are updated annually. The plan can be revised or amended up to two times per year. Every ten years the plan is evaluated and rewritten to include the next ten years.

Q: Are changes to the Future Land Use Map limited to the twice-per-year amendment cycle?
A: Yes, for "large scale" map amendments affecting properties ten acres or larger. There is no limit on the number of "small scale" map amendments affectign parcels under ten acres, however, the areas subject to small scale amendments are limited to a combined total of 60 acres in any one year.

Q: Doesn't the State of Florida have to OK changes to the Future Land Use Map?
A: The Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) reviews all text amendments and all "large scale" map amendments. The City must justify the need for proposed changes in conformance with state law and must adequately respond to any official DCA "objections" before the changes can be adopted. "Small scale" amendments are not reviewed by DCA.

Q: How long does it take to get a map amendment once the application is made?
A: About 6 months for a large scale map amendment. About 3 months for a small scale amendment. Approval is not automatic. A proposed amendment must be reviewed by staff, recommended by the Planning and Zoning Board, adn approved by the City Council.

Q: How does the zoning classification of the property relate to its future land use designation?
A: Zoning is a tool to help implement the Comprehensive Plan. As part of the Comprehensive Plan, a Future Land Use Map was adopted that assigned future land use designations to the various areas in the City. The future land use designation determines the general type of land use that is allowed (commercial, industrial, residential etc.) and the maximum density (living units per acre) or intensity (square feet of building area) of those uses. Within each future land use designation, certain zoning district classifications can be assigned to provide more specific regulations.

Q: What if I wanted a different zoning? Can I get the zoning classification changed?
A: That depends on a number of things. The present zoning pattern is fairly stable, having been established through careful deliberation and having stood the test of time. Also, zoning districts are intended for general areas so that in most cases individual lots are not zoned differently from surrounding properties.

However, circumstances change with time and compelling land use reasons may exist for rezoning a particular property. If you think this is the case, schedule an appointment with the Planning Department to discuss it. Remember that each zoning district classification can only be mapped within certain future land use designations.
link to zoning application: PETITION FOR REZONING

Q: Can't I request a variance for the use that I want?
A: No. There can be no variance for the use of property. Variances can be considered for most other zoning provisions including dimensional requirements such as minimum setback provisions where a hardship can be demonstrated.

Q: What happens if the existing use on my property is not allowed in the zoning district?
A: If the use was legal at the time it was established, it can continue indefinitely. This is known as a "legal, nonconforming use." However, the use cannot be expanded and if the use is discontinued for more than one year it cannot be reestablished.

Q: What is a Conditional Use?
A: Zoning classifies permitted land uses according to those that are permitted "by right," which do not require any additional zoning action, and those that are permitted as "conditional uses," which require the recommendation of the Planning Commission and the City Council. Conditional uses are land uses that are deemed to be detrimental in the zoning district in which they are located but that could be compatible if certain conditions are imposed to mitigate possible impacts. For example, a day care center wanting to locate in a residential zoning district may be required to design its parking area to prevent traffic from entering a certain street or a proposed church may be required to install a stockade fence to prevent car headlights from shining on neighboring homes.

Q: How are setbacks and building heights measured?
A: Building setbacks are measured from the property line to the nearest wall, post or upright of the structure. The roof can overhang a certain amount. Building heights are measured to the highest finished roof surface in the case of flat roofs, or to the mid-point between the ridge and the eve in the case of peaked roofs.

Q: I own a house on a large lot. Can I sell off a portion of my property?
A: You can as long as both resulting parcels meet the requirements for minimum lot width in your zoning district and both lots front on a public street. Also, the existing house must meet the applicable minimum setback from the new lot line that will be created.

Q: How is the amount of required off-street parking determined?
A: According to the use of the property. Each type of land use requires a certain parking ratio, normally expressed in terms of the number of spaces per 1,000 square feet of building floor area. Most retail commercial uses require 1 space per 250 square feet of gross floor area. Most office uses require 1 space per 200 square feet of gross floor area. Most residential uses require 2 parking spaces per living unit.

Q: Where can I put a mobile home in Zephyrhills?
A: Mobile homes must be located in a mobile home park or mobile home subdivision zoned M1 or M2.

Q: I want to build a commercial building in Zephyrhills. How can I determine how big the building can be?
A: The size of the building is limited by the maximum lot coverage requirement, the maximum building height requirement, and the land area required to accommodate required off-street parking, landscaping, and stormwater retention facilities. The size of stormwater facilities can only be determined by engineering calculations.

Q: How close to my property line can I place a fence?
A: You can install a fence adjacent to or on the property line. The fence height cannot exceed four feet on front and street side property lines in residential districts or eight feet on other property lines. Fences require building permits.

Q: How can I find out more information about zoning?
A: Please contact Todd VandeBerg, Director of Development of Development or Rodney Corriveau, Assistant City Planner at (813)780-0006

Q: Will my taxes rise as a result of creating a CRA?
A: No. A CRA does not levy taxes, it redistributes property tax payments that are already made to the City and County.

Q: What is the time frame for seeing change?
A: Deterioration within the district took place over the course of many, many years. As a result, reversing that process will take a long-term, sustained effort. In the beginning stages of CRA districts, the tax increments is relatively small and the majority of the activities will be related to planning, strategy and goal-setting. As the plans are developed and the increment grows, the opportunities for larger, more visible projects will emerge. City staff is developing a redevelopment plan that will provide a blue print of how the city envisions the future of Downtown Zephyrhills to look. The City also is establishing incentives such as elimination of transportation impact fees and off-site retention. Please contact the City's Planning Department for further updates and information pertaining to incentives and the overall Downtown Redevelopment Plans.

Q: How does the Zephyrhills Comprehensive Plan relate to the Pasco County Comprehensive Plan?
A: The City's plan applies only within the city limits of Zephyrhills. The County's plan applies only within unincorporated Pasco County. Although similar in some respects, the two plans are entirely different. The two governments coordinate on certain planning and development activities such as road planning.

Q: I plan to purchase property in Zephyrhills. How do I determine how the property is zoned?
A: Call or visit the Planning Department (813-780-0006) and provide information that will help identify the particular parcel such as the street address, the lot and block legal description, or the property identification number. Always confirm the specific zoning classification before you buy or develop property. Do to rely on general statements by real estate agents or neighbors, such as claims that property is "commercially zoned." Also, be aware that not all properties having a Zephyrhills address are inside the city limits. If the property is located in unincorporated Pasco County, contact Pasco County Development Services at 352-521-4274.

Q: Why is the zoning classification important?
A: Zoning determines such things as the specific land uses that are permitted, the minimum lot sizes, and dimensional standards such as the minimum building setbacks and maximum building heights. Zoning also regulates the amount of off-street parking and landscaping that is required.

Q: What is a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA)?
A: A Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) is a dependent taxing district established by City government for the purpose of carrying out redevelopment activities that include reducing or eliminating blight, improving the tax base, and encouraging public and private investments in the CRA. The City Council is the official Community Redevelopment Agency for Zephyrhills.

Q: Why create a CRA?
A: CRAs are created to assist local municipalities in pursuing redevelopment in targeted areas that are characterized by blight and disinvestment. By establishing a CRA, local governments are given a financial and planning mechanism by which to redevelop areas where private market forces aren't working.

Q: Where is Zephyrhills' Community Redevelopment Area or Boundaries?
A: Zephyrhills has one downtown CRA district, which was established in 1998.

Q: What are Community Redevelopment Trust Funds, Tax Increments, and Tax Increment Financing (TIF)?
A: Community Redevelopment Trust Funds are created for each of the CRA districts as a means of holding revenues to be reinvested in the CRA.

The tax increment is made up of property taxes contributed by the City and County to the Community Redevelopment Trust Fund. The tax increment is calculated annually based on increases to property values within the designated CRA districts using the year in which they were established as the "base year." For example, if an unimproved property was valued at $10,000 in the base year and a new house is built on the property tomorrow, the new value of the property is $25,000. The incremental difference is value (new assessed value - base year value) is $15,000. Taxes collected on the property will be split among the City, County and CRA according to these differences in value with the CRA receiving all taxes assessed on the incremental increase of $15,000. Revenues generated by improvements in the CRA districts are to be reinvested in the district to continue to spur redevelopment.

Tax increment Financing (TIF) is a revenue mechanism that pledges the anticipated future CRA revenues to pay the debt service on revenue bonds. Revenue bonds are used to pay for improvements within the CRA districts as outlined in the redevelopment plans.

Q: What type of redevelopment activities will happen in the CRA districts?
A: Redevelopment activities are outlined in the CRA district Redevelopment Plan. The Redevelopment Plan is a document that is approved by both the City and County at the time that the CRA district is created. The Redevelopment Plan outlines the goals and objectives for the district, but more importantly, it outlines programs that allow the goals to be reached. The general goals of the CRA district is to eliminate blight, improve public facilities, create safer traffic flows, preserve and enhance residential neighborhoods, and improve the overall economic viability of the district. Possible programs would include street improvements, park improvements, development of infill housing, recruitment of new businesses and partnerships with job-training and placement services. Most programs are designed to encourage private developers to invest in CRA districts.

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