Concerns mount about one area of Tampa Palms
By MELIA BOWIE, Times Staff Writer
TAMPA PALMS -- Worries about plans for neighboring Area 3 -- a parcel of Tampa Palms under the purview of developer Warren Kinsler -- dominated the year's first taxing district meeting in Areas 1 and 2.
Residents in the communities just south and west of Area 3 are concerned there is a "a failure to represent adequately the cache of Tampa Palms," district field consultant Maggie Wilson told supervisors, citing more than 100 calls and e-mails to the Tampa Palms Owners Association.
Last year Areas 1 and 2 pledged millions to revitalize those communities with upgraded landscaping, refurbished signs, new fountains and better irrigation.
New supervisors Gene Field, who was named chairman at Wednesday's meeting, and Patty Maney campaigned on platforms pledging that 2003 would herald better oversight and a better look for Tampa Palms.
Now concerns are growing about Kinsler's upkeep of Area 3 and his plans for development there.
"I'm hearing a lot of things that disturb me," Maney said. 'I think some of the things that he had represented he would do have not come to fruition as time passed, (such as) the overall continuity between the areas."
Part of what sets Tampa Palms apart is its residential feel and the lack of large clusters of commercial development, she said.
Late last year, Kinsler began building townhomes and a 105-house subdivision in Area 3.
In December, he requested a curb cut on Bruce B. Downs to lure tenants to a planned shopping center he said will include a grocery and home furnishing store. The "right in and right out" curb cut is the key to enticing Borders to sign on as New Tampa's first bookstore.
But transportation officials oppose it.
The Florida Department of Transportation recently recommended the request be denied. Last week, city staffers agreed.
In a memo, the transportation planning staff found that such cuts would not be signalized and consequently would interrupt the flow of traffic and increase the chance of rear-end accidents, side swipes and weaving hazards. The City Council will have the final say at a Feb. 13 meeting.
Still stronger worries among Tampa Palms homeowners focus on Kinsler's request to the city indicating he wants to develop the entire 700,000 square feet of zoned commercial space he owns in Area 3. Kinsler's zoning allows him to develop that much, but development beyond an initial 441,000 square feet requires a traffic study. He submitted that Jan. 3.
"I've heard rumors of everything from a Costco-type store to different eateries and a bookstore," Maney said.
Kinsler replied last week, "I am really trying to bring some nice, compatible tenants to the area."
"Most of the comments I've heard is (residents) don't want any commercial; I don't think they realize that over 300,000 square feet has already been approved (and) I've got rights to 700,000."
If built in one location, 700,000 square feet would be more than quadruple the size of the Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse already on the property. It would be half the size of University Mall.
But Kinsler said he has no plans to build 700,000 square feet of commercial development in one clump, "and that's the confusion."
"Originally when we bought the property ... it was a minimall, which I thought was not conducive," he said. "It needed to be spread out" into clusters.
Kinsler said he is attempting to line things up now because "we just believe in the future we'll need that square footage."
Yet the traffic in Tampa Palms is already so bad that more development automatically raises eyebrows, supervisors said.
"It is the unknown that gives us the most concern," said Maney. "I just hope it's something where we can work together."
-- Melia Bowie can be reached at 269-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
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