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Sprawl has metastasized in once-peaceful Riverview in just a few years, with no end in sight.

Published October 3, 2003

In 1988 I moved from Honolulu to Riverview, into a home on 2 acres with a spring-fed lake.

Riverview was a quaint, friendly little town on the Alafia River, a big change from the hustle and bustle of cosmopolitan Honolulu. I loved the serenity of the lake with its teeming waterfowl; I liked watching raccoon, armadillo, possum and fox run free. Best of all, there was a picturesque 10-acre ranch across the street that was running a small herd of cattle and a few horses.

It all changed in 1995 with the approval of a 247-unit "affordable housing" complex called Bayou Crossings less than 1 mile from my home. It changed Riverview as I knew it, forever.

The residents north of the Alafia River have watched high-density urban sprawl blight this part of Riverview. Heavy industry has polluted our air, lakes, wells and the river. The fish aren't safe to eat. Wildlife is conspicuously absent.

The roar of traffic on Interstate 75 and U.S. 301 has replaced the serenity. Orange groves have been replaced by 238 new homes at the end of our street, most of the ranch and pasture land across from my home is now 849 new houses, there are 400-plus luxury apartments to the north, and soon there will be 1,441 apartments, townhouses, single-family homes and commercial property to the west, with no infrastructure in place to support it.

Hillsborough County commissioners, planners and administrators have planned the I-75 corridor very poorly. We have 12,000 new residents in less than a 3-mile radius with no basic infrastructure.

We have flooding in our neighborhoods for the first time in history, traffic is a nightmare, schools are overcrowded, and crime is on the increase. We don't have the water, goods or services to support the density, yet the development continues at phenomenal speed all the way to Big Bend Road in Summerfield and beyond.

The county has a cavalier approach: High-density development for Riverview. The people hear from the County Commission and planners: "It was approved in the General Comprehensive Plan in 1983 and we are powerless." I don't agree.

The people that appear before the Hearing Master and at County Commission meetings are dismissed as so much rubbish when we present the residents' point of view. The developers have high-profile attorneys making huge profits, while the grass-roots folks cannot afford it.

We raise our voices in disgust, but we are not heard. As an added insult, the county refers to Riverview as south Brandon. We are proudly Riverview! Now, I ask, who is working for whom?

- Dunlap lives on Springbrook Drive in Riverview.

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