Changing county rules for a proposed industrial park near Interstate 4 would be premature, planning commissioners said this week.
They unanimously voted against a land-use change that would allow developers to build 175,000 square feet of commercial space and 564 homes on 94 acres near I-4 and McIntosh Road.
Attorney Vincent Marchetti, representing Orlando's M.L. Carter Development, said the company wants to build an industrial park on the property.
"My concern is we could be delaying this thing for many years to come," he said, urging commissioners to make an exception to county rules restricting growth in rural areas.
But residents who spoke at Monday night's meeting said that would be a piecemeal approach.
"The Planning Commission needs to look at the broader picture," said Dave Kulow of Riverview.
Planning commissioners also said Marchetti's proposal to allow the extension of utilities into rural areas for "economic development" was too broad.
Marchetti said he crafted the language to pave the way for M.L. Carter's project. But facilitating more growth along highway corridors makes sense, he said.
Without changing the rules quickly, he said, Hillsborough County will lose high-paying jobs to Polk County and Plant City.
But planning commissioners voted against his proposal. County commissioners, they said, should discuss that issue as part of an upcoming I-4 economic development study.
Planning Commissioner Edward Giunta said county residents and commissioners must change their perspective.
"It's a no-growth mentality, and our county cannot survive without growth," he said.
But Planning Commission Chairman Bruce Cury maintained that Monday's meeting was too soon to change the rules.
"Imagine I have a 15-year-old daughter, who says, 'I want to go out with a 19-year-old boy. You know I'm going to go out with a 19-year-old boy eventually,'" Cury said. "It's still premature."
County commissioners will have the final say. They are scheduled to vote on the proposed changes on Feb. 7.
Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 661-2454.