Editorial: Tampa City Council wisely favors environment over development

Published June 29, 2018

The Tampa City Council showed common sense, vision and resolve by unanimously rejecting a proposal Thursday that called for filling three acres of a lagoon for a new townhouse development. These projects have no place in modern urban planning, and the council took another significant step by looking to pre-empt these proposals from popping up again.

A New York developer sought to fill three acres of an 8.8-acre lagoon near Rocky Point on the Tampa side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway. The site is privately owned and under water, and developers sought to change its land use category to permit residential development. Plans called for 16 townhomes there, each about three stories high and with a private dock.

Hillsborough County's city-county planning commission found the proposal consistent with Tampa's Comprehensive Plan, a ridiculous decision that turned common sense on its head. The city and opponents rightly pointed out that filling a lagoon in a coastal flood zone in Upper Tampa Bay would be bad for the environment and bad for urban planning. The council was right to embrace the staff's reasoning to reject the project. The board went even further by approving a motion by council member Charlie Miranda directing the planning commission to write a clear rule to ban these types of projects in the future.

Council members did their jobs by acting on the concerns of their constituents. Rocky Point and the precedent this conveys citywide are better for it.