ST. LEO — After another two hours of sometimes-tense discussion, the St. Leo Board of Commissioners on Monday approved a site plan allowing truck access to a plant operations facility at Saint Leo University via tiny Pompanic Street.
Monday’s unanimous vote included a stipulation that the university seek permission from the Florida Department of Transportation to use State Road 52 for any future plans regarding access to Pompanic and the university’s west campus.
The board’s decision also included another stipulation: Before the university requests approval from the town for any further use of Pompanic, it must first be denied access to the west campus via S.R. 52 by the DOT.
Area residents, as well as officials in St. Leo and neighboring San Antonio, which share ownership of Pompanic Street, have said they do not want Pompanic to become a high-volume thoroughfare for university traffic, which could threaten the safety of children.
“We hear you loud and clear,” Joel Tew, the university’s land-use attorney told the board. “You want us to look at State Road 52 for (future) access to service the west campus.”
Before Monday’s vote, the board learned that a traffic study commissioned by the town mostly supported a previous traffic study done by the university.
Tew reiterated that the university is ready to begin work on the roughly 17,000-square-foot plant operations facility and that university officials have agreed to pay half of the estimated $250,000 it will cost for road improvements on Pompanic.
St. Leo officials agreed to pay the other half of construction costs through collected transportation impact fees, which must be used for road projects or be returned.
“We’re offering to fix your substandard road,” said Tew, who at times seemed frustrated by the laborious talks. “That’s an example of what we’re prepared to do. If you want to look that gift horse in the mouth and not use it, we won’t do it.”
Traffic studies showed that even with deliveries to the plant operations facility, traffic flow on Pompanic would not typically exceed 18 percent of the road’s capacity.
San Antonio Mayor Tim Newlon, who attended the St. Leo meeting, said he understood the board’s decision.
“Politically, there’s little that San Antonio can do going forward, but we’re going to look at the possibility of legal alternatives that we might avail ourselves of, but that’s not something I decide on my own. We’ll probably talk about it at our meeting next week.
“I thought the (St. Leo) commission was very thoughtful and Mayor (Richard) Christmas took the time to analyze it.”