Section of Lithia-Pinecrest may become office district

By null, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 25, 2003

A plan for rezoning a stretch of Lithia-Pinecrest Road is on its way to becoming part of the county Land Development Code.

Working with a team of neighborhood volunteers, county planners have developed a strategy for turning residential property on Lithia-Pinecrest Road from State Road 60 to Lumsden Road into a business and professional office district.

The Hillsborough County Commission on Tuesday approved a draft of the plan.

The commission in July 2001 initiated the study to help residential property owners whose land had lost value because of the rapid growth on Lithia-Pinecrest Road.

"The population in this area doubled and traffic went from a few cars a day to total gridlock," said David Borisenko, the county planner in charge of the study.

The residential property lost its value, Borisenko said, and individuals struggled to rezone land because all the surrounding zoning is residential.

If the Lithia-Pinecrest Overlay becomes part of the land development code, it would smooth the process.

Among other things, the proposal allows conversion of homes to nonresidential uses, imposes a 35-foot maximum height for new construction, prohibits pole signs, limits outside lighting to motion-activated security lighting, and limits business hours of operation to 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

All the elements are still up for discussion. The Planning Commission will review the plan in August and hold a public hearing Sept. 8. The public will be invited to comment on the plan at Board of County Commissioners meetings Oct. 16 and Nov. 12. If the plan is approved, it would go into effect next February.

Bruce McClendon, director of the county Department of Planning and Growth Management, told commissioners he saw the Lithia-Pinecrest Overlay plan as a prototype that could be used throughout the county in areas affected by rapid growth.

In other action Tuesday:

RUSKIN: A major retail center is on its way to the southwest corner of U.S. 301 and Big Bend Road. Commissioners approved a request to rezone 33.87 acres there from agricultural to planned development. The developer will put a 280,000-square-foot shopping center on the site. Tom Hand of Colliers-Arnold says he is in negotiations with some major national retailers. (Petition RZ 03-0316)

LITHIA: The developers of FishHawk Ranch received approval to rezone 26 acres from commercial to residential. Newland Communities will put 160 apartments on the site. (Petition 03-0397)

GIBSONTON: Commissioners approved a request from Cornerstone Holding Group to modify the zoning on a planned development at the southeast corner of Gibsonton and East Bay drives. The site was originally zoned for 181,000 square feet of heavy equipment sales and services and an office. The approved alternative plan permits 175,000 square feet of commercial use and a 200-room hotel. (Petition MM 03-0304)

RUSKIN: SouthStar Development Partners received approval for a modification to a 376-acre planned development at the southeast corner of 27th Avenue and U.S. 41 to allow for a storage area for recreational vehicles and boats. The 9-acre storage area will be in the northeast corner of the project. (Petition MM 03-0311)

A zoning hearing master is scheduled to review the following petitions Monday:

LITHIA: Richard and Miko Longanecker want to rezone a 39-acre tract at the northeast corner of Dorman and Browning roads to build up to 39 single-family homes. The current zoning allows no more than seven homes on the site. (Petition RZ 03-0583)

RIVERVIEW: Beazer Homes wants to rezone 48 acres on Balm-Riverview Road from agricultural to planned development. The builder plans to put 130 homes with 6,000-square-foot lots on the property. (Petition RZ 03-0410)

New petition:

GIBSONTON: Stella Prince has submitted a petition for a special use permit for 5 acres at 6771 E Madison Ave., west of 78th Street S. Prince wants to operate Prince Community Academy, a charter school for children with learning disabilities and behavioral and emotional problems. The school would open in the fall. A land use hearing officer is scheduled to review the petition May 30. (Petition SU 03-0722)

When and where HearingsofcountyzoninghearingmastersandlandusehearingofficersandlandusemeetingsoftheCountyCommissionareheldonthesecondflooroftheCountyCenter601EKennedyBlvd.Allhearingsbeforeazoninghearingmasterbeginat6p.m.onMondaysorTuesdays;commissionmeetingsbeginat9a.m.onthesecondandfourthTuesdaysofeachmonth.Botharetelevisedongovernmentaccesschannels.Landusehearingofficerhearingswhicharenottelevisedbeginat9a.m.everythirdFriday.Basicinformationabouteachpetitionisavailableonlineathttp//