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

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. Tampa Bay Lightning, Amalie Arena to host job fair today


    TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Lightning and its home, Amalie Arena, are hosting a part-time job fair from 3 to 6 p.m. today on the Promenade Level of the arena. Available positions include platinum services, parking attendants, event security, housekeeping, retail and many other departments.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning and AMALIE Arena is hosting a part-time job fair on Thursday, Aug. 17 on the Promenade level of the arena.
  2. Nearly 1 in 4 Tampa Bay homeowners considered equity rich

    Real Estate

    If your home is worth at least 50 percent more than you owe, you're rich — equity rich that is.

    About one in four Tampa Bay homeowners are considered "equity rich." [Associated Press file photo]
  3. The FHP trooper behind quota on speeding tickets will retire Sept. 5

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — A Florida Highway Patrol official's call for troopers to meet ticket quotas has cost him his job.

    Major Mark D. Welch, Troop Commander of Troop H, wrote an email asking his employees that he wants them to write two citations each hour. "This is not a quota," he wrote. His resignation is effective Sept. 5. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  4. Trump shuts down CEO advisory councils as main group acts to disband


    President Donald Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded on Wednesday following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them. Soon after, the president announced on Twitter that he would end his executive councils, "rather than …

    President Donald Trump meets with Merck's chief executive, Kenneth Frazier, second from left, and other leaders of the pharmaceutical industry in the Roosevelt Room of the White House last January. On Wednesday, Trump's main council of top corporate leaders disbanded following the president's controversial remarks in which he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them.
[New York Times file photo]
  5. A long-awaited vision for Tampa's Westshore Marina District

    Real Estate

    TAMPA —Eleven years after plans to develop a waterfront tract on the Tampa side of the Gandy Bridge were first announced, a new rendering gives a hint of what Westshore Marina District ultimately will look like.

    Rendering of Marina Pointe, a condo project overlooking Tampa Bay as part of the Westshore Marina District. [Courtesy of Masterfile Corp.}