VALRICO — Worried about traffic, crime and stormwater runoff, more than 100 residents drove to downtown Tampa on Monday night to oppose a planned retail and office park in Valrico.
Dressed in red shirts, they spilled into the hallway at the County Center, where zoning hearing master Steve Luce listened to a half dozen pleads against an application to rezone 19 agricultural acres bordered by Lithia-Pinecrest, Brooker and Valrico roads.
A developer plans to build nearly 100,000-square feet that will be used largely for offices and retail stores, with little support from those who live in the area.
When Luce asked if anyone wanted to speak in opposition of the development, nearly everyone in the room stood.
Attorney Vincent Marchetti, who represents property owner GLH Enterprises, said the site plan is consistent with the county's comprehensive plan and that Monday's hearing wasn't the forum to debate the need for the development.
"We don't want it because we don't need it," said lawyer Patrick Dekle, who lives near the site. "There is everything within 5 miles that any of us could want from a store."
Neighbors worry about the effect on Lithia-Pinecrest Road, which county officials plan to widen to at least four lanes once funds are available.
Marchetti said developers have tried to alleviate concerns of neighbors and county staff by amending the site plan six times and changing the project's time frame. They decreased the number of entrances, modified building plans and agreed to delay most of the development until Lithia-Pinecrest Road is widened.
"We've tried to reach out to the community," Marchetti said. "We've done that through meetings; we've done that with other correspondence."
Luce will make a recommendation and submit it to the County Commission for a vote on Jan. 12.
Kevin Smetana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2439.