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County may move jails, sell site

County Jail West, for years the unwanted resident in Carver City andLincoln Gardens, soon may be removed from the neighborhood.

Hillsborough County officials have proposed moving two jail facilities and a work-release program from the neighborhood, providing that the city of Tampa gives them the rights to sell the property, Assistant City Attorney Gina Grimes told the City Council on Thursday.

That provision may irk residents of Carver City and Lincoln Gardens who want the jail removed but also want to see the jail site used for affordable housing or some other project that will improve the neighborhood.

The Tampa City Council, which has not yet agreed to the county's offer, will hold a public hearing on the issue. The hearing has not been scheduled.

"I don't know if the City Council is going to approve it or if the neighborhood is going to approve it," Grimes said after Thursday's meeting. "That's just the proposal on the table. Nothing has been decided."

If the city agrees, the county will promise never again to use the property for jail purposes, Grimes said. She said the county, which paid the city $640,000 for the 3.4-acre site, wants to protect its investment.

When the county bought the jail from the city in 1971, the deed called for the property to revert to the city if the county stops using it for jail purposes. But a 1986 agreement, which allowed the county to expand the jail, said that the work release facility on the site would be removed when the county finds a new location for the program and if the city gives up rights to the land.

Once the county sells the land, the city could control the future use of the property through zoning, Grimes said. Although the property was rezoned temporarily for the jail, it technically is zoned for residential use only. The City Council, however, cannot deny a zoning change simply because of public opposition, she said.

County officials do not know when they would move the temporary work release site, which will be located across from the county's new Orient Road jail. In December, the county agreed to move other jail facilities from the site by August. All of the prisoners will be moved to the Orient Road jail.