ZEPHYRHILLS — Clinging to the hope that the Zephyrhills Municipal Airport industrial area can still reap the benefits of a possible brownfield designation, city staff during a workshop on Monday night presented City Council members with an extremely scaled-down version of the proposed area, which now excludes residential properties.
The government designation provides financial incentives to redevelop commercial or industrial properties that are contaminated or suffer from the perception of being contaminated. Last year, the county received a $1 million grant to identify areas that might qualify for brownfield status, and in the fall county and city officials started holding public meetings about a proposed 6,700-acre site around the airport. The original plan called for inclusion of several residential properties, but now that those and several other properties, including the airport itself, have been removed, the area is only about a third of the initial proposal.
Some council members, residents and business owners are worried about what the designation will bring to the place known as "The City of Pure Water." The question now is whether the incentives will outweigh the stigma.
The council will decide at its Jan. 23 meeting whether staff should continue moving forward, said Todd Vander Berg, the city's director of development and planning. If they vote in favor of proceeding, more public hearings will be held before a final decision.