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County okays big box store, but neighbors fear big headaches

LUTZ — Hillsborough County commissioners this week approved a proposed 24-hour big box store, but in a nod to neighbors, they tried to curtail noise from the business at night.

"There's going to be noise," Commissioner Mark Sharpe said. "We just have to do the best we can to mitigate that."

Commissioners voted 6-1, with Ken Hagan voting no, to allow Colonial Trust Properties to build an around-the-clock store on the north side of Bearss Avenue, just east of Nebraska Avenue.

The developer already had the zoning to build the store on the 30-acre site, an old citrus grove and fruit-packing plant now home to a driving range.

But the county's approval from 2004 restricted the store's hours, and the company says it can't find a buyer with that limitation.

To control noise and glare from the store, the developer offered to screen the neighborhood to the north and the east with a wall, a pond and a landscaped buffer; re-orient the building's entrance to face away from nearby homes; and put parking lot lights on poles about half the normal height.

Those changes would provide more protections for the neighborhood than the 2004 rezoning did, said Ken Marshall of Colonial Properties Trust.

But more than 100 neighbors wrote letters in opposition.

"All we're asking the commission to do is to listen to the voice of the community," said Richard Hess, whose home on Sinclair Hills Road will face the store's loading docks. "Do not allow a 24-hour business to be crammed down our throats and destroy our neighborhood."

The developer originally agreed not to allow truck loading or unloading outside the store from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays (8 a.m. on weekends).

Residents asked for more quiet time, and several commissioners indicated they couldn't support allowing trucks to load and unload until 11 p.m.

In response, Colonial Properties agreed to 10 p.m., but its attorney, Vincent Marchetti, said the developer might come back for a change in conditions or a change in the use of the land if it can't find a buyer.

County okays big box store, but neighbors fear big headaches 12/09/08 [Last modified: Monday, December 15, 2008 5:21pm]
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