NEW PORT RICHEY — The New Port Richey City Council has cut a deal with a property owner who purchased land along the Pithlachascotee River to build a boat dock and slip, but later discovered he could not legally build them there.
The council unanimously passed a land-use agreement Tuesday to bypass zoning restrictions that ban building a dock on the property, and then questioned whether city codes may be too restrictive.
City documents say that in February, Patrick Moccaldi bought a small piece of property on the river, at 7229 Grand Blvd., where he wanted to build the dock and boat slip. Although the property is zoned residential, New Port Richey code allows construction of a boat dock there only as an accessory to a dwelling.
Another problem is that the .19-acre property is too small for any other building, under zoning regulations, leaving the land unusable if the council didn’t take action, according to a memo City Manager Debbie Manns sent to Council members.
"In this case, much like most of the property located on the east side of the Pithlachascotee River, the parcel in and of itself is not large enough to provide for the development of any permitted use in the zoning district," Manns wrote.
Rather than prevent Moccaldi from building his dock and slip, Manns sought approval for a land-use agreement that would mandate rules, including that he provide a site plan and that he not use the dock for commercial purposes. Adjacent property owners had no objections, she told council. Moccaldi did not speak at the hearing.
The idea led City Council member Matt Murphy to ask whether such a situation occurs often in the city. City Attorney Timothy Driscoll called Moccaldi’s case "pretty unique."
Even so, council member Peter Altman suggested the council look at changing ordinances that may hamper property owners from using their land. He favored that over individual land-use agreements "to make sure this is not a special-favor type of circumstance." He also called it a "buyer beware" situation.
"This is not a situation where we should have an enormous amount of sympathy for purchasing something inexpensively and then coming in and saying I can’t use it," Altman said. "I am not generally in favor of not following the rules, but in this case, since it’s unusual, I will support the motion."
Mayor Rob Marlowe voted for the motion, calling it a one-off" situation.
"It is an interesting discussion about the question as to what extent do our current rules create impediments to the sort of improvements I think all of us would like to see in New Port Richey," he said.