Zephyrhills to stop development amidst water supply concerns
Facing a daunting things-to-do list, the Zephyrhills City Council this past week unanimously gave its first approval to a yearlong development moratorium.
The move, which will get its final vote in two weeks, will allow the city to pause new development and annexation applications, giving officials time to get a handle on future growth. Most importantly, the city is working to increase its water-use permit, which limits how much water the city can use for existing customers and promise to future development.
Currently, the city is nearing its maximum water use allowed under the existing permit.
In addition, city officials want to review impact fees, an assessment charged to new development to pay for the effect of growth on city services ranging from roads to parks. They also will discuss potential new limits on housing density and negotiate with the county and the state over transportation needs.
A year is a short time to get all of that done, warned council president Lance Smith. Still, he said it was the right thing to do to make sure that Zephyrhills has water not just for incoming development but also for current customers.
The water pinch is ironic because Zephyrhills’ motto is “City of Pure Water” and it may be best known for its water bottling plant producing the Zephyrhills brand of water.