It’s no secret that a large portion of our population is here because they were eager to trade the frosty inconvenience of snow for the year-round warmth of the Florida sun.
Be honest, though. You miss it sometimes, don’t you?
Well, for at least part of the year, you may be able to relive some of the winter’s better moments, as a proposed snow park in Pasco County recently got the green light from Pasco’s Board of County Commissioners (BOC).
The park will be located at the corner of St. Joe Rd. and Bellamy Brothers Blvd., roughly 15 miles north of the Shops at Wiregrass, adjoining Treehoppers Aerial Adventure Park and Scream-A-Geddon Horror Park.
The BOC unanimously approved a conditional use permit on Aug. 6, allowing Point Summit, Inc., which runs Treehoppers and Scream-A-Geddon, to build Florida’s first snow park on 58 acres in Dade City it purchased last year.
The park will have a snow tubing hill, a snow play area and other winter-related activities, and is expected to be another feather in the area’s ever-growing tourism cap.
The snow park is permitted to operate 120 days a year, from 2 to 7 days a week, depending on the weather. Clarke Hobby, the lawyer for Point Summit, Inc., said based on recent winters and the temperature needing to be under 80 degrees for the snow concept to work, “something tells me it’s going to be (open for) more like 45 days (a year).”
The proposed park will not operate on the same day as Scream-A-Geddon (or the fall festival the “horror park” operates in unison with), which has a temporary-use permit to run 56 days (this year, it opens Sept. 13 and runs through the first week in November).
Denise Hernandez of Pasco’s planning and development department said a neighborhood meeting was held in May, with 32 residents in attendance, and only one letter of objection was filed.
“We have worked with the neighbors in coming up with a series of conditions that almost everybody is happy with,” Hobby said.
Some of those conditions include not allowing access to the park off Bellamy Brothers Blvd., planting more than 1,000 six-foot red cedar trees to, according to Hobby, “create an evergreen condition that will be a great noise and visual buffer for our neighbors” and creating a 400-foot setback for all structures.
Some residents, however, weren’t quite satisfied, expressing concern that the county was sacrificing more of its rural areas.
During public comment on Aug. 6, Judy Geiger submitted a stack of red manilla folders that she said included 33 letters of objection, among other documents, and yielded her remaining time to Bob Hunter, a former Hillsborough County planning commissioner.
According to Hunter, the conditional use sought by Point Summit was not consistent with Pasco’s land development code, which protects against rural decline.
“A snow mountain and a haunted house are certainly not consistent with the surrounding area,” Smith said.
Two other residents also spoke, but District 2 commissioner Mike Moore noted that some of the complaints were coming from people who lived a good distance away from the proposed park, and seemed satisfied with the efforts of Hobby and the park owners to appease the concerns of the local residents.
“What I’m seeing are not rejections from people living right across the street,” Moore said. “And, I like the 400-foot buffer (plan).”
District 5 commissioner Jack Mariano agreed.
“This will be a nice amenity, as well as helping tourism,” Commissioner Mariano said before voting yes.