DOVER — A proposed energy industrial park on a former phosphate mine in Dover cleared its first barrier to development Monday as the Hillsborough County Planning Commission recommended changes to the comprehensive plan.
Planning commissioners voted 8-1 Monday evening to recommend approval of two amendments allowing development of the project south of State Road 60 bounded by Turkey Creek and Dover roads. Chairman Bruce Cury was the lone dissenter. He did not discuss his reasons for voting against the amendments.
The energy industrial park, put forth by South Florida development firm Imperium Cos., would include renewable energy production and research facilities, as well as industrial, office and manufacturing compounds.
The other commissioners said the promise of the development outweighed any possible opposition.
"It brings prosperity to our area, and we need to support this," Commissioner Jill Buford said.
The amendments would expand the county's urban services area to include the 3,000-acre land parcel, so the project would have access to county water and utilities. The land designation would also change from agricultural and residential use to a new energy industrial park category that allows for mixed use of the land.
The County Commission will vote on the amendments at a public hearing scheduled for April 8. Before then, the development company plans to meet with the community Thursday at the Farm Bureau Insurance Co. in Valrico to address concerns raised during Monday's hearing.
"I think there's a lot of community concerns that we need to address, and we will," the company's president, Kyle Mowitz, said after the hearing. "But overall, it went very well."
Several residents, including community activists and a representative from the local Sierra Club, were worried about the precedent set by expanding the urban services area and the perceived lack of information provided to the public.
Community activist George Niemann of Dover said residents worry the urban services area expansion could open up the area to additional development.
"What they're afraid of is the domino effect," he said.
Hilary Lehman can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 661-2441.