BRANDON — No FishHawk truck route. … I Like Brandon Main Street. … Don't widen John Moore Road.
Those were just a few of the comments left by more than 100 residents who attended an open house last week at the Brandon Regional Service Center to check the progress on the area's community plan. The plan, which is 21 months in the works and about six months from completion, will give the county a list of goals and strategies for development in the greater Brandon area.
Miller Dowdy, a Hillsborough Planning Commissioner and Valrico resident, said a community plan has been long overdue in Brandon, which exploded with growth in the mid 1990s when the shopping mall opened.
"It's grown astronomically since then," he said, from a "cow town to a metropolitan area of 250,000 people."
Improving transportation is at the top of the planning committee's list. Along with several road projects, the plan calls for more local bus service and a connector in Brandon if light rail is added to the bay area.
The committee also recommends changing one of the Eastern Hillsborough truck routes, which currently runs along Bloomingdale Avenue, to Boyette Road and FishHawk Boulevard. Residents requested a new route because of the close proximity Bloomingdale Avenue buildings share with the road.
But changing the truck route seems "politically infeasible" because of strong opposition from homeowners along the proposed route, said Bill McCall, who manages the county's truck routes. Several residents who oppose a new route said trucks would travel too close to nearby schools.
Also on the plan's list of goals is a vision for the Brandon Main Street area, which community advocates hope becomes a centralized downtown. Just east of the mall, the main street area is mostly undeveloped but could eventually be home to retailers, apartments and public-use buildings.
"Hopefully, once the economy gets back on its feet, you'll see that property developed the way we want it," said Lisa Rodriguez, a committee member and Brandon resident.
Community planners also aim to protect the area's natural environment, revitalize older infrastructure, preserve a family-friendly environment, and provide recreational and cultural resources.
Community leaders expect to finalize the plan by early fall. After county commissioners approve the plan, it will be implemented into the county's comprehensive plan.
Kevin Smetana can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2439.