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Developers ask for more time on south county project

Developers who want to build in the Boyette area of south-central Hillsborough County have asked for another six weeks to work out their differences with county zoning officials. A zoning hearing master will hear the Williams Cos.' proposal Dec. 10, said Biff Craine, an attorney for the developer.

But even if county zoning and planning officials approve the project, it still could face opposition when it comes before the County Commission in January.

"Everyone is moving forward with an abundance of caution because they realize that what they decide will set a precedent for the county," Craine said.

Williams, based in Tulsa, Okla., wants to develop almost 5,000 acres near Balm Riverview Road south of Big Bend Road.

The development would include homes, stores and office buildings. County officials are considering allowing it as a "planned village," a new designation under the comprehensive plan.

But county planning and zoning staff have raised numerous questions about how the development would affect vegetation and wildlife.

The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, an advisory board that reviews developments of regional impact, has raised similar concerns.

County officials also are questioning whether the development truly will be a planned village, enabling residents to work, shop and live in the same area.

They maintain that to ensure the development is a village, developers must construct the residential, commercial and office components at roughly the same time.

"We want to make sure that if we call a duck a duck, it's really a duck," said Lorrie Paul, a spokeswoman for the regional council.

Craine plans to work with county planning and zoning staff before Dec. 10 to try to answer their questions.

"We are eager to work with Mr. Craine, but it's a big project," said Lucia Garsys, a planning and zoning manager for south Hillsborough. "It may even be premature to build in that area. We have a lot of (developments of regional impacts) that already have been approved, but have not been completed yet."

The regional council is waiting to see what kind of plan, if any, is approved by county officials.

"We will have to wait until we see a development order," Paul said. "We have made it very clear what issues need to be resolved."