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County gears up for 'smart growth'

By JANET ZINK
Published February 13, 2004

Sure, Hillsborough County is growing fast.

But it's only going to grow more.

County planners predict that by 2025 more than 500,000 new people will be added to the 1-million people that currently call Hillsborough County home.

Where will they live? What type of housing will they need? How will they get where they want to go?

The Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission and the Metropolitan Planning Organization are creating long-range plans that address those questions.

Current residents can have their say on the plans at a series of public meetings.

Ultimately, elected officials will use data collected during the Plan 2025 process to make decisions about how growth will occur in the county.

The Long Range Transportation Plan, which outlines projects that need to be funded during the next 20 years, should be in place by November. High priority projects include major roads and highways, back paths, sidewalks and public transit.

Florida law requires each local government to develop and periodically update a Comprehensive Plan as a blueprint for growth. The current one dates back to 1989 and was revised in the mid 1990s.

The county's new Comprehensive Plan is scheduled for adoption in April 2007. It considers such factors as population projections, existing development, the suitability of land for development, the capacity of public facilities and the financial feasibility of improving those facilities. At the heart of the plan is a future land use map that specifies whether commercial, industrial, residential or other projects are allowed on each site and how intense those developments can be.

During the planning, county officials are considering the latest "smart growth" philosophies, such as creating mixed-use development, providing transportation choices, protecting natural resources, maintaining farming operations and developing pedestrian-friendly communities.

[Last modified February 12, 2004, 12:52:02]

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