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  1. Business

Wawa ends effort to build on Seffner site

SEFFNER — Seffner residents hoping to experience the latest Wawa convenience store expansion in the Florida market will have to travel a little farther to taste built-to-order hoagies, freshly-brewed coffee and hot breakfast sandwiches.

Brightwork Real Estate Inc., the Wawa developer, has withdrawn its application to construct a Wawa on 1.99 acres of land at the northeast corner of Williams Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Wawa sought a variance to wellhead protection and surface water resource protection regulations put in place in 2002 so it could install three underground gasoline/petroleum storage tanks on the property.

The application was removed from last week's County Commission Land Use meeting after Tampa Bay Water and the Hillsborough County Development Services Department—Phosphate/Land Excavation opposed the application in a June 3 meeting with wellhead hearing master George F. Gramling III.

Wawa still plans to open a store at 3942 N U.S. 301, 2 ½ miles west of the proposed Seffner location, in the fall. A Wawa at 10115 Bloomingdale Ave. in Riverview is scheduled to open as well.

In 2007, the board approved a plan that calls for 78,408 square feet of retail/office use on the Seffner land parcel. Davpam Mobile Home Park LLC and Charles Springer own the land that used to be an aqua driving range. Springer wanted to sell the land to Wawa so his 1,326 residents living on 61 adjacent acres would have access to restaurant quality food, gas and new jobs.

To have the prohibited use operating permit granted for the wellhead protected area, there has to be an overriding public interest.

Mark Linski, who represents Davpam Mobile Home Park LLC, claimed a hardship by not being informed of the 2002 wellhead protected action.

"It's the misapplication of this wellhead protection regulation by Hillsborough County to my client's property," Linski said at the wellhead hearing meeting. "And we're the harmed party here; we truly are."

Brightwork also argued that the wellhead ordinance itself was a "hardship" because it hinders the ability to install and operate a Wawa in the specific location chosen by Brightwork for its proximity to residents and Interstate 75.

Wellhead and surface water resource protection is designed for the health and safety around public potable water supply wells and to protect surface water bodies that are upstream of potable water supply systems. Wawa's proposed underground gas tanks would have been approximately 720 feet from the DavPam Mobile Home wells, a half mile from a Tampa bypass canal tributary, two miles from the Tampa bypass canal and four miles from the Hillsborough River.

"The county's stance is the overriding public interest has been insufficiently demonstrated, as well as unique hardship," said Mike Stevenson, senior hydrologist of the Hillsborough public works department.

Another RV center may come to area

While Wawa's agenda item was removed from the July 23 land use meeting, one item the commissioners discussed was the property on the south side of Interstate 4 between McIntosh and Branch Forbes roads just east of Seffner.

County commissioners rezoned the land and that quickly drew speculation from published reports that Michigan-based General RV Center was planning a second Florida location with an 80,000-square-foot sales and service building on 26 acres.

Dennis Anderson, vice president of marketing for General RV, which opened a store in Jacksonville in 2009, said Monday it's not a done deal.

"It's premature," said Anderson, adding that he expected a decision to be made in two weeks. "We would like to move forward, but there still are some other properties we are looking at."

General RV calls itself the largest family-owned nationwide RV dealer. The location is just a short drive on I-4 from RV competitors Lazydays and Camping World.

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