Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough County Commission gets final say on distribution hub proposal

TAMPA — A California company hoping to build a distribution hub near environmentally sensitive land in Ruskin gets one more chance at its proposal after planning commissioners shot down its request to build a giant warehouse facility off U.S. 41.

Siding with its staff, the planning commission voted unanimously Monday night against Inland Port Systems' request to change the county's comprehensive plan, which restricts industrial businesses to urban areas. Commissioner Jacqueline Wilson was not at the meeting.

The request now goes before the County Commission at its meeting on Aug. 13. Despite the unanimous vote against the project, several planning commissioners said they liked the idea, just not the location.

"This is a very hard decision," said Commissioner Hung Mai, who listed five big strikes against the project, including its remoteness from public utilities and infrastructure investments at the Tampa port and Interstate 4.

Inland hopes to build 2.6 million square feet of warehouse and office space on almost 400 acres of farmland off U.S. 41 north of the Manatee County line. More than 2,500 acres of conservation land surround the proposed project site.

Inland's project calls for truck and rail docks as part of a distribution center for container shipments arriving by land, rail or sea. The company expects expansion in traffic of container cargo at Tampa's port in the next few decades.

Inland president Richard Ellison told commissioners the project would help Tampa Bay compete in global trade, which depends heavily on container shipments. He said the facility would employ 1,800 people when it's built out and add $7 million a year in property taxes to county coffers.

He said his company would help pay for restoration of environmentally sensitive land; build its own water and wastewater plants for the site; and cut use of groundwater by 300,000 gallons a day from its current farm users.

About 18 environmentalists and residents from nearby Sundance spoke against the project. They worried about truck traffic and potential pollution or run-off harm to adjacent conservation land.

"This project is a disaster waiting to happen," said Mariella Smith, a Ruskin activist.

Project consultants said truck traffic would use U.S. 41 and Interstate 75. They also said the site was the best place in the county because tenants don't want to cut through congestion near the port.

Commissioners wanted to hear from Tampa port officials.

Charles Klug Jr., deputy port director, said the port was neutral on the project, which lies far from the port's industrial zone. Also, most of the port's container traffic moves along Interstate 4 — not U.S. 41.

"We don't think this is the right location for us," Klug said.

Planning commissioners agreed. The site sits outside the urban service core, where the comprehensive plan steers development to discourage sprawl in rural areas.

"It's inconsistent with the comprehensive plan," said planning commission chairman Bruce Cury. "I don't think you got over that first threshold."

Saundra Amrhein can be reached at or (813) 661-2441.

Hillsborough County Commission gets final say on distribution hub proposal 06/25/09 [Last modified: Thursday, June 25, 2009 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Woman convicted in murder of 18-year-old with cerebral palsy gets lighter term


    TAMPA — Linda Bonck, a 90-pound Chamberlain High School senior with cerebral palsy, lived near Tampa's Lowry Park. She struggled to walk and talk but was known for being friendly and trusting of strangers until she vanished one day in 1992.

    Georgia Miller, 39, was convicted for the 1992 murder of Linda Bonck, an 18-year-old Chamberlain High School student who had cerebral palsy. Originally sentenced to life in prison, Miller was resentenced Wednesday to 65 years, the result of U.S. and Florida Supreme Court decisions that found it unconstitutional to sentence juveniles to life. With gain time, Miller will be released from prison in the next six years. [Florida Department of Corrections]
  2. Boynton Beach woman arrested on DUI, child abuse charges


    A Boynton Beach woman was arrested Saturday and faces DUI and child abuse charges after she blew a .200 on a breath test with an unbuckled child in the backseat, according to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.

    Brandy Lerma, 31 of Boynton Beach, was arrested on DUI and child abuse charges on Saturday. [Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Editorial: Why can't Hillsborough commissioners move Confederate monument?


    The violence in Charlottesville, Va., crystallized for much of the nation the danger of refusing to address painful symbols of the past. But not so in Hillsborough County, where the County Commission on Wednesday reversed itself yet again and left open the possibility of leaving a Confederate monument outside the …

  4. Former WTSP employee sues station's parent companies for gender discrimination


    A former director at WTSP-Ch. 10 has sued the station's parent companies, claiming she was the victim of gender discrimination.

  5. Editorial: UF should reconsider denying white nationalist's request to speak


    University of Florida president Kent Fuchs understandably cited security concerns Wednesday in denying white nationalist Richard Spencer's application to speak next month on campus. But those security concerns could be addressed, and they should not stamp out free speech at a public university that aspires to be great. …

    The University of Florida, citing security concerns, has denied white nationalist Richard Spencer’s application to speak on campus in September.