CITRUS PARK — Once a country byway, Henderson Road continues to evolve into a busy thoroughfare lined with suburbs, apartments and businesses.
And now one of the few remaining pieces of agriculturally zoned land on Henderson near Gunn Highway is up for a rezoning.
From the road, it looks big. But the request concerns less than 1 of the 8 vacant, woodsy acres on Henderson.
"What I'm finding is that people seem to think it is the parcel that is quite large," said Lisa J. Montelione, a planning consultant who represents the property owners. Instead, she said, "it's about 100 feet of frontage."
Property owners Steven and Betty Preston of Tampa want to rezone their 0.84 of an acre across from the Tampa Day School to allow the construction of an office building. The site also is across from and just north of the entrance to Logan Gate Village.
The Prestons don't have an immediate plan to build anything, but the rezoning would make the land more marketable, Montelione said.
If the Prestons did end up building an office building on the site, Montelione said she expected that its style would be similar to the neighboring dentist's office, which was built to look like a home. And it probably would be smaller, because the dentist's office sits on more than 1.5 acres.
The area has grown up over time, and the opening of a Wal-Mart Supercenter at Gunn Highway and Henderson five years ago accelerated the pace of change.
In a letter to the county, Montelione said surrounding properties have been rezoned for business professional office uses, institutional uses, multifamily units and large subdivisions.
The parcel to the north, she noted, received zoning approval for offices, and a 7-acre vacant parcel to the south is permitted for multifamily development.
But the gradual transformation of Henderson concerns two residents who have written the county to object to the rezoning.
Gloria Delisle worries that more vacant land is paved over, back yards like hers could begin to flood.
"Obviously, if one takes land away and they build and the construction is allowed, the water has to go somewhere," said Delisle, 66, who has lived in the Cedar Creek neighborhood for more than two decades. "I'm not fearful of it in the near future, but am I fearful of it in the ongoing future? Yes, I am."
Darryl James has a different concern — traffic.
James, 31, grew up in Logan Gate Village and, as a 13-year-old, was hit by a passing car as he rode his bicycle along Henderson Road. He said he was thrown 20 feet in the air, broke his collarbone. He also was severely scarred and needed 38 stitches to close a gash below his right knee.
And three years ago , James recalls that 16-year-old Chalama Vern Peters — known to her family as Gem — died after being hit by a car as she walked to work on Henderson near Gunn Highway.
The teen's death brought back bad memories for James, who prayed for the girl and her family.
The road has gotten busier with the opening of Wal-Mart and new apartments, and he said he doesn't want more development to create further hazards.
"We've gone from being a nice little part of town to just a hub-bub like every other part of town now," he said.
Henderson — a two-lane road with a 45 mph speed limit but no sidewalks or bike lanes — "is currently operating at an unacceptable level of service," according to an analysis by Glen Shopmyer, a senior planner in the county's transportation division. At its busiest times, the road carries up to 886 cars and trucks an hour.
Transportation officials do not object to the rezoning itself.
Rather, Shopmyer noted that officials will identify needed improvements if and when a developer submits a site plan for a project. Those improvements could include improvements to the road, intersection or access to the property, dedication of right of way or construction of new sidewalks at the property.
Richard Danielson can be reached at Danielson@sptimes.com or (813) 269-5311.