BRANDON — After two years and more than 50 meetings, a plan to develop land along Interstate 4 from Temple Terrace to Polk County continues to take shape.
The next stop for the I-4 Green Tech Corridor is a public hearing before the Hillsborough County Planning Commission on Monday. Planning commissioners will discuss proposed changes to county rules that could pave the way for the project to happen.
After that, the project would still face scrutiny from county commissioners, who ordered a study on the 30-mile interstate corridor in 2008.
The changes, which have been approved by county planners, are aimed at providing "permit-ready" sites that can be easily marketed for development, according to a planning commission staff report.
The I-4 corridor has been touted as a way to attract sustainable developments, along with biomedical and green industry jobs that pay well. An estimated 18,746 jobs paying a salary of at least $40,000 per year are expected, according to the planning commission report.
The plan will also aim to limit growth within areas that have water and other services, while preserving agricultural-based industries.
But residents against the development project claim it's a ploy to turn rural land into office parks and other developments.
Dover activist George Niemann said the I-4 corridor is a way for the county to expand the urban service area without saying they are. Key phrases such as "green" and "economic development" mask the project's true nature, he said. "The majority of the land out this way is rural," Niemann said. "And once you run the water in, they can say and do whatever they want. My biggest fear is expansion. To me, this is commercial sprawl."
Chandra Broadwater can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 661-2454.