Plans for outdoor snow park in Florida to move forward

Image 1 of 7

Snow is coming to Pasco County. The Board of County Commissioners just approved a permit for a snow amusement park to be built in a rural part of Dade City. 

The proposed snow park will be built just west of the Tree Hoppers Aerial Adventure Park property, on St. Joe Road and Bellamy Brothers Boulevard, which is also the site of the annual Scream-A-Geddon.

In the cooler months, there will be a hill for snow tubing that's up to 300 feet long and up to 200 feet wide, and a snow play area.

"A snow park is very unique to the area and I think it'll bring a lot of people to Pasco County," said Commissioner Ron Oakley.

The snow park will operate a maximum of 120 days of the year - as long as temperatures stay below 80 degrees.

"If they wanted that to happen, that they needed to work with my citizens out here," Oakley said.  "We've got a good, rural atmosphere out here and that needs to be taken care of."

This is a plan that's been months in the making. There were public meetings, along with letters of support and objection.

Tuesday, Commissioners had to decide if they'd approve a conditional use permit for owners BB Agritourism and "Saint Joe Ranch that would allow an amusement park with beer and wine sales in an Agricultural District.

Several voiced their concerns before the vote. "This is not compatible, it's not consistent," said neighbor Stephen Gonzalez.

"The proposed use will increase traffic and congestion," said Bob Hunter, a planning consultant brought to speak on behalf of a neighbor.

"If this amusement park fails, what other amusement park is he going to put in next?" asked Nancy Hazelwood.

The owners' attorney, Clarke Hobby assured neighbors that they'll maintain a 400-foot setback from Bellamy Brothers Boulevard, use St. Joe Road as the sole entrance and exit, and plant 6-foot cedar trees as a buffer.

"We're not proposing any increase in density here. We are being very responsible with the lighting," Hobby added.

With that, commissioners voted unanimously to let it snow.

"Most of the developments have been at a pretty good pace," said neighbor Lorne Lehman, who supports the park. "I'm pretty happy with that because it's good to have businesses that are moving in. It does help the economy and kind of helps keep everything going around here."

Now begins the development and construction phase. While there won't be a snow hill ready for this winter, the target is to have it up and running by the end of 2020.