Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough task force votes to shield Cone Ranch from development

TAMPA — A Hillsborough County task force recommended Monday the preservation of Cone Ranch, saying it should be protected from development.

The vote pleased neighborhood and environmental leaders who opposed a plan to divide the land and sell separate parcels to private interests. The task force instead agreed to have the Water Resource Services Department, which has water rights to the land, deed the 12,800-acre tract in northeast Hillsborough to the county's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Preservation Program, or ELAPP.

"We got what we needed," said member Denise Layne. "I really believe the county commission is going to listen to us."

Hillsborough County commissioners are scheduled to vote on the recommendation at their Dec. 2 meeting.

The panel was created at the urging of commission Chairman Ken Hagan after the Florida Conservation & Environmental Group, made up of local businessmen, proposed that it be allowed to subdivide Cone Ranch into six parcels and collect brokerage fees for selling them to private interests. The buyers would have had to agree to preserve the parcels in perpetuity by agreeing to what are known as conservation easements.

Last week, the group told the county it was tabling its offer, which had been characterized by residents as a sweetheart deal concocted behind closed doors. The land is part of an important wildlife corridor and watershed, and some residents feared the county was shirking its responsibilities for protecting it.

The water utility owns the land because it was once considered a potential well field, but its value for that purpose has diminished.

Prior meetings of the task force had sometimes been contentious, but Monday's final meeting was marked by a clear consensus. It took members less than an hour to agree on their recommendation.

If commissioners approve it, the water utility must sell the county the land at its "fair market value," which will be determined by appraisals.

The only member of the task force who voted against the recommendation was Hugh Gramling, executive director of Tampa Bay Wholesale Growers. Gramling said the land already was protected from development and this would waste money that ELAPP could spend on other properties.

Hillsborough task force votes to shield Cone Ranch from development 11/16/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 16, 2009 8:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Two boys in critical condition after Largo crash


    LARGO — A 7-year-old boy was thrown from a car in a head-on crash on Starkey Road, and both he and a 6-year-old boy were in critical condition Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  2. Trump's new order bars almost all travel from seven countries


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Sunday issued a new order banning almost all travel to the United States from seven countries, including most of the nations covered by his original travel ban, citing threats to national security posed by letting their citizens into the country.

    President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Sunday upon his return to the White House in Washington.
  3. Somehow, Rays' Chris Archer remains just shy of being an ace

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — Chris Archer had another bad game Sunday.

    Chris Archer is sputtering to the finish line, his rough start on Sunday his fourth in his past five in which he hasn’t gotten past four innings.
  4. In Mexico City, hopes of finding quake survivors dwindle


    MEXICO CITY — Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.

    Rescue workers search for survivors inside a felled office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City on Saturday.
  5. GOP health bill in major peril as resistance hardens among key senators


    WASHINGTON — The floundering Republican attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act met hardening resistance from key GOP senators Sunday that left it on the verge of collapse even as advocates vowed to keep pushing for a vote this week.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate, said Sunday that it was “very difficult” to envision voting for this health-care bill.