Make us your home page

FishHawk Ranch, Channing Park residents complain about plans for TECO Energy transmission lines

LITHIA — State Rep. Rachel Burgin said she wanted to hear from residents about TECO Energy's plan to run high-voltage transmission lines through FishHawk Ranch.

The Riverview Republican got an earful Thursday night from more than 250 residents.

At a town hall meeting organized by Burgin's office, residents from the FishHawk and Channing Park neighborhoods assailed the project, complaining about possible health risks associated with high-voltage power lines as well as the impact they might pose on neighborhood ambience.

"This is David and Goliath. It absolutely is," FishHawk resident Roger Rush said, alluding to TECO "Because I don't think they care a rat's rear end about us. They're going ahead with it and this (meeting) is all nonsense to them. They don't care. If they cared, they'd be here."

Almost half of the meeting's attendees said they lived in Channing Park, which sits along the project's expected route just southeast of FishHawk Ranch.

So many attended the meeting at the Palmetto Club at 17004 Dorman Road that it had to be moved to a larger conference room.

Many brought children and held multicolored signs saying, "Stop TECO" and "Stop power lines now." Some, hoping to learn more, said they stopped by after work. Others, such as Charles Van Auken of FishHawk, said they took the day off to ensure their voices would be heard.

Van Auken said his home backs up to the project area.

"When we bought our house we were told nothing about this," Van Auken said. "We were told only that there was a 200-foot buffer behind our house. That's it."

The meeting ran about two hours. Before the residents got their turn to complain and pose questions, FishHawk residents Christie and Jason VanVleet explained the project and its history.

The two said they've scoured public records in recent weeks to learn when TECO acquired two easements linked to the project.

One of those easements, they said, was provided in 2003 by Newland Communities, FishHawk Ranch's developer, which, combined with the other easement, would provide enough land to build the transmission lines.

Rick Harcrow, a senior vice president at Newland, told the crowd he wasn't part of the San Diego-based developer's granting of that easement, but he stressed the company wants to help now and is trying to convince TECO to move the lines.

"We are aligned with you in that we would like for these power lines to go away," he told the residents.

"I'm worried about my kids," Melissa Sheedy, a FishHawk mother of two, said after the meeting. "My kids play out there every day. How is this going to affect them?"

Burgin said she and state Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, will offer help to residents who want to file formal complaints against the plan with regulators.

"I want the residents to have an opportunity for their voices to be heard," Burgin said.

TECO has said the project is part of a larger expansion that would require approval from the state's Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, and, possibly, the Department of Environmental Protection.

The company is still evaluating options and said that instead of expanding it might buy the energy it requires.

If the company proceeds with the expansion, it would file a plan with regulators in August. Hearings by the PSC would begin a month or two after that.

Audie Canney, an aide to Storms, said she would request the PSC to hold its hearings locally.

Rich Shopes can be reached at [email protected]

FishHawk Ranch, Channing Park residents complain about plans for TECO Energy transmission lines 05/26/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 26, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Demolition begins on wing of Channelside Bay Plaza, making way for Water Street Tampa (w/video)


    TAMPA — The original developers of Channelside Bay Plaza at first wanted the name of the complex to include the word "Garrison." That would have fit, because the center turned out to be fort-like, inwardly focused and unwelcoming.

    A pedestrian bridge in the southwest wing of Channelside Bay Plaza was demolished in Tampa on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. [Gabriella Angotti-Jones  | Times]
  2. Sunday Supper returns with 25 chefs, food fests galore

    Food & Dining

    Save the date: SUNDAY SUPPER

    This just might be the dinner of the year. The Bern's family of restaurants has organized a James Beard Foundation fundraiser to fund the Bern Laxer Memorial Scholarship for culinary students in the state of Florida for a number of years. But this week they announced the …

    Bern’s Steak House located at 1208 S Howard Ave, Tampa on Wednesday 2/19014
  3. Locale Market changes yet again, rebranding the restaurant as FarmTable Cucina

    Food & Dining

    When Locale Market opened in Sundial St. Pete in Dec. 2014, it was the most-hyped, most-anticipated gourmet market/food hall/culinary playground Tampa Bay had ever seen. Since then, celebrity chef-owner Michael Mina has done what every entrepreneur does in the face of challenges: tinker.

    Chef Michael Mina and chef Jeffrey Hileman work in the kitchen at Farmtable Kitchen in 2016. EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
  4. U.S. home construction tumbles 4.7 percent in September

    Working Life

    WASHINGTON — Construction of new homes fell 4.7 percent in September, the biggest decline in six months, reflecting weakness in both single-family activity and apartment building.

    Construction of new homes fell 4.7 percent in September, the biggest decline in six months, reflecting weakness in both single-family activity and apartment building.  [Associated Press file photo]

  5. Agreement means Spectrum won't lose Viacom programming


    Less than a week after disputes between two cable industry conglomerates became public, the two companies have reached an agreement.

    Viacom and Charter Communications released a joint statement that the companies reached an agreement in principle. Charter also markets itself as Spectrum. [AP file photo]