CARROLLWOOD — Carolyn Fink and her husband were looking for a safe, secluded neighborhood where they could raise a family when they purchased in the 12-home Enclave development six years ago.
Now the mother of three young boys worries that a developer's plan for a nearby Walmart and a Wawa convenience store could ruin the neighborhood's ambience and threaten her children's safety.
"We walk down the sidewalk all the time, and with the traffic exposure this will bring, it's just too much," said Fink, who learned of the plan two weeks ago from neighbors.
Fink and others who live near the proposed retail development at N Dale Mabry Highway and Floyd Road say they're gearing up for a fight and will take their objections to the Hillsborough County Commission if necessary.
Their efforts are drawing some heavy hitters.
During a town hall meeting Wednesday night at the Carrollwood Recreation Center, state Rep. James Grant and state Sen. Jim Norman pledged their support, telling a packed meeting room they also oppose the retailer's plan.
"This is a bad fit for this neighborhood," Norman said to cheers from the estimated 250 in attendance.
Grant said much the same: "I'm a third-generation Carrollwood resident. I love Carrollwood. This (store) does not belong here."
Grant's office called the meeting. He said the legislators can't do much officially, but they can help organize opposition at the ground level.
They offered tips, such as creating a united neighborhood front when residents address county officials, and narrowing their complaints to tangible issues. Chief among them are traffic and its potential effect on neighborhood ambience and the safety of children. An estimated 11,000 vehicle trips daily to the retail development are expected, according to the developer's plans.
"The most powerful message you can send is to show up to the county and say, 'I'm against it,' " Norman told the crowd.
The plans submitted by developer Brightwork Dale Mabry Floyd LLC call for a 41,000-square-foot Walmart Neighborhood Market — the grocery store, not the Supercenter — and a 6,000-square-foot Wawa convenience store with gas pumps. The stores would share 10 acres at the former Hudson's Nursery site and be accessible by entrances at Floyd and Dale Mabry.
Like Norman and Grant, many in the audience said they have nothing against Walmart but oppose its plans to build in Carrollwood.
"If this was happening 10 miles away, I'd be doing the happy dance," resident Jan Barkett said. "I adore Walmart. It's the location that's the problem."
The project needs several approvals, including a rezoning, before moving forward. A hearing on the matter is tentatively set for 6 p.m. June 11 before a zoning hearing master. If approved, the plan would then go before the Hillsborough County Commission.
Rich Shopes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.