ZEPHYRHILLS — The City Council has put its objections in writing.
The council approved a resolution Monday evening protesting the state's proposal to turn U.S. 301 into a one-way downtown thoroughfare. The resolution passed unanimously, with council member Lance Smith absent.
The Florida Department of Transportation proposes turning the downtown stretch of U.S. 301 into a one-way street heading north. All southbound traffic would be diverted to Sixth Street, which is already one-way.
Eventually, both streets would be widened to three lanes.
The city's resolution asks the state to re-evaluate its plans and transfer control of the downtown stretch of U.S. 301 to the city.
"It's their road but our community," said City Manager Steve Spina. "We just didn't feel their plan was right for us."
The resolution also voices the council's concern that DOT representatives have been unwilling to work with city officials on a compromise, and says the council and staff would like to collaborate with the state on the project. The resolution will be sent to the DOT and state Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel.
In an interview Tuesday, DOT spokeswoman Marian Scorza said the agency has met with city officials several times to discuss the project and explore possible alternatives. So far, she said, the city's suggestions have not proved feasible.
"We are still willing to sit down and work with the city," Scorza said. "It's an important project for the city and for the department as well."
But council member Luis Lopez, who has been an outspoken opponent of the U.S. 301 proposal, said he fears the state will once again ignore the specific needs of Zephyrhills.
"I'm afraid what happened to Lakeland will happen to us," Lopez said at Monday evening's meeting. "Only the big boys can play there. All of the mom-and-pop businesses are gone."
Lopez said he didn't think the resolution was worded strongly enough. However, he said he understands the political need for the city to water down its language.
Lopez said DOT cares only about moving cars through the area, not the residents or the character of Zephyrhills.
"I want to call them liars," Lopez said. "They said they're going to budge (on the proposed changes), and we've gotten nothing from them."