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Residents vow to fight I-4 development corridor

BRANDON — As a plan to develop land along Interstate 4 moves forward, residents are looking for ways to fight the project.

Despite stricter growth codes touted by Hillsborough County officials, those who live near the proposed I-4 Green Tech Corridor said the plan will open rural land up to developers.

"This is the wrong thing to do, and we're all very disappointed," said Terry Flott, a Seffner community activist.

"At this point we plan to battle it through the (state Department of Community Affairs)," she said. "But we'll most likely have to wait until (County) commissioners make a decision."

On April 5, planning commissioners voted on a map designating points of development along the corridor.

The commission had previously approved a language amendment to county rules, which must be made for development to happen.

The issue heads to county commissioners, who first requested a study on the corridor in 2008, for a vote next month. The plan will then head to state Community Affairs officials.

The area to be considered stretches for 30 miles from Temple Terrace to Polk County. About 18,940 acres of "permit-ready" sites within the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrance and Plant City entail regions with more industrial uses and services such as water, sewer and transportation that can be easily marketed to developers.

Another 5,860 acres of "green tech expansion areas" are in rural locations that don't have urban services.

Planning commissioners approved a narrower parcel than first suggested by county staffers, which excludes development in Thonotosassa, north of Pruett Road.

Parcels south of U.S. 92 between McIntosh and Bethlehem roads in the Dover area also were eliminated.

"Now that the corridor has been narrowed, that makes it a little less offensive," Flott said. "But my concerns have always been along (U.S.) 92. The infrastructure is just not out here. Who's going to pay for that?"

The already stressed and crowded road runs parallel to I-4 and would only become more crowded with increased traffic, she said.

Hillsborough principal planner Heather Lamboy stressed that the proposed changes to county code call for stronger controls over how growth occurs than what exists now. Developers would also be required to pay for all infrastructure and services needed for office parks and other similar envisioned developments.

"And based on the analysis and study results, a portion of those rural areas already have suburban-mixed uses," Lamboy said. "It's not necessarily all rural land use designations."

For the past two years, the I-4 corridor has been sold as a way to attract "high-paying" biomedical and green industry jobs, along with sustainable developments. An estimated 18,748 jobs paying at least $40,000 a year are expected.

County commissioners are expected to vote on the issue May 6. A final vote will take place in August.

Chandra Broadwater can be reached at cbroadwater@sptimes.com, or 661-2454.

Residents vow to fight I-4 development corridor 04/15/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 14, 2010 4:41pm]
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