Sunday, April 22, 2018
Politics

Hillsborough commissioners reject proposed Carrollwood Walmart

TAMPA — Residents of the Carrollwood area applauded a decision by Hillsborough County commissioners Tuesday to block a new Walmart Neighborhood Market from opening on N Dale Mabry Highway — for now.

The 6-0 decision by commissioners rejected a request by developers of the proposed project to increase the amount of commercial construction that could take place on the 10.4-acre parcel at Floyd Road and Dale Mabry.

They said the proposed development was not compatible with nearby neighborhoods.

An overflow crowd of more than 100 residents from the area, many wearing red shirts and arriving by rented bus, burst into applause after the vote.

"We're thrilled, elated," said Leah Wooten, an organizing member of the 813CARe, a group composed of representatives of surrounding neighborhood groups and business owners. The acronym CARe stands for Carrollwood Against Rezoning.

The unanimous vote from the largely Republican, reputedly prodevelopment commission — Democrat Les Miller was out sick — was somewhat of a surprise. County staff-level planners and the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission had said the zoning modification would comply with growth rules and a hearing officer had recommended approval.

The proposed location on the east side of Dale Mabry north of Linebaugh Avenue is the site of the former Hudson Nursery and is one of the last leafy stretches of the highway south of Lutz. Current zoning on the property calls for a mix of commercial, office and residential construction, with the emphasis on offices.

Developers were seeking permission to make it strictly commercial, in keeping with the mass of retail stores and restaurants that line the road. Plans called for construction of a 41,080-square-foot Walmart Neighborhood Market, the downsized, grocery-specializing version of the more commonly known big-box megachain. The proposal also included a 6,119-square-foot Wawa convenience store.

Representatives for Walmart and developer Brightwork Acquisitions LLC said they had taken steps to make the project blend with what exists nearby. A wetland buffers the site from residents to the east and an 8-foot wall was planned.

Walmart lawyer Jim Porter said the development would clean up pollution on the property from years of fertilization and said the property is slated for intense development anyway.

"Taking a step back, we're asking permission to add a grocery store on Dale Mabry Highway, and a convenience store," he said.

Residents have protested near the property periodically for months. They submitted petition signatures by the hundreds.

They said the project would open a new way for drivers to cut through their neighborhoods in search of shortcuts between major roadways. They also said traffic from the Walmart and a planned traffic signal for the main entrance at Floyd Road would further clog already-choked Dale Mabry.

Developers can appeal the commission's decision in court, and some commissioners expressed concern that they could prevail. Attempts to reach representatives of the developer and Walmart after the meeting were unsuccessful.

In reviewing zoning requests, commissioners are supposed to reach their decision based on facts: In this case, either the proposal meets guidelines of the county's growth guidebook, known as its comprehensive plan, or it doesn't. They're not supposed to base decisions on perceptions of public sentiment.

Commissioner Al Higginbotham said those two things posed a conflict Tuesday.

"We as commissioners have two duties, one to the public and the other to uphold the law," Higginbotham said. "I felt it was important to respond to the sentiment of the public.

"I think they not only go to court," he said of the developers, "but they prevail."

Times staff writer Elizabeth Parker contributed to this report. Bill Varian can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3387.

Comments
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18