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Neighborhood installs message boards

Buckhorn residents want to thank Hillsborough County for its help improving communications within their 655-home subdivision.

In early 2003, the Buckhorn Estates Homeowner's Association received a $1,500 matching grant from the county's Office of Neighborhood Relations to build informational message boards. The metal "Buckhorn News" boards feature a glass-covered area to post messages.

The community recently finished installing the signs at its four entrances.

County Commissioner Ronda Storms was slated to attend a short dedication ceremony this afternoon at the Cedarcrest entrance to the subdivision.

Code changes aimed at beautification

BRANDON _ County planners on Tuesday unveiled a draft of changes to the land development code that would gradually beautify State Road 60 from Interstate 75 to Dover Road.

The new laws would require property owners who make building improvements worth more than 50 percent of a property's assessed value to meet certain guidelines. Those who build from the ground up would also have to follow the new standards.

The guidelines divide the road into two areas: an urban core with suburban areas on either end of the 5-mile stretch.

Proposed changes include: banning pole signs and requiring that ground signs be no more than 6 feet tall in the urban core and 8 feet tall on the outlying areas and enlarging landscaped islands in parking lots.

At Tuesday's meeting, community members on the task force also agreed to require that buildings have a 10- to 20-foot front yard setback in the urban core. Among other things, those buildings also must have pitched roofs with such architectural elements as dormers, steeples or cupolas, and 20 percent of the facade must be windows.

Community members can make suggestions about the plan at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Brandon Community Center, 502 E Sadie St.

The Hillsborough County Planning Commission and county commissioners will review the changes in March. Public hearings are scheduled for April, with the County Commission making a final decision in June. If the changes are approved, the new laws will go into effect in November.

Three charged in car burglary, forgery ring

VALRICO _ Authorities this week arrested three people in connection with a burglary ring and have released a sketch of the man they believe robbed a 29-year-old Valrico woman.

Police say the man abducted the woman by hiding in her car while she stopped at the 7-Eleven store on State Road 60 near Dover Road.

The man threatened her with a weapon and demanded she drive north to Dad Weldon Road, off Walden Sheffield Road in Dover. He punched and kicked the woman, took her wallet and fled. The woman was treated and released from Brandon Regional Hospital.

Police said the man, who appeared to be in his 30s, had shoulder-length blond hair and wore a dark sweat shirt, jeans and work gloves.

Earlier this week, police arrested Helen Cummings, 31, of Tampa and Frederick Williams, 41, and Melanie Willette, 26, both of Valrico, on various burglary and forgery charges. Police say all three hid in the cars of women at gas stations, robbing them as they went inside to pay.

Lt. Rod Reder, Hillsborough Sheriff's spokesman, said the two incidents are not related.

Anyone with information on the man in the sketch may call the Sheriff's Office at 247-8200 or the CrimeStoppers hotline at 1-800-873-8477 (TIPS).

_ LETITIA STEIN, JANET ZINK and JAY CRIDLIN

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