The special district encourages commerce that fits in with a highly trafficked neighborhood.
By JANET ZINK
Published March 12, 2004
BRANDON - When Elliot Gates bought his home on Lithia-Pinecrest Road 22 years ago, it was a relatively quiet street and a fine place to raise his three children.
Now, though, cars whiz by all day and sit at a standstill during rush hour. That's made it difficult, if not impossible, for people living there to sell their homes.
"The way the traffic is on the street it wouldn't be a good idea for a family to want to live on this street, and it's getting to the point that even someone that doesn't have children might not want to live on here because of the noise level and the back-up of traffic," Gates said. "Eventually we think they're going to widen the street and that will bring even more traffic."
Rezoning the land for business uses has proved just as difficult as selling because it's adjacent to a large subdivision.
But county officials have stepped in to make it easier.
In February, the Lithia-Pinecrest Restricted-Business Professional Office Overlay, the first such district in the county, became part of the land development code.
The district, said county planner David Borisenko, is designed to promote commercial development on the strip of Lithia-Pinecrest between State Road 60 and Lumsden Road that will blend with nearby residential neighborhoods.
Creation of the district began in July 2001, when the Hillsborough County Commission initiated a study to figure out how to help residential property owners whose land had lost value because of the rapid growth on Lithia-Pinecrest Road. A team of neighborhood volunteers and county planners came up with a special zoning intended to allow commercial development without hurting adjacent neighborhoods.
In part, the zoning allows conversion of homes to nonresidential uses, imposes a 35-foot maximum height for new construction, prohibits pole signs, limits intensity of outside lighting, restricts business hours of operation to 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., and preserves large trees.
"We're trying to avoid strip commercial," Borisenko said. "It's a pretty stretch of road. We want to see if these conditions will help it stay pretty."
County planners will monitor development on the road for about a year, Borisenko said. If the district proves successful, it may be applied to other streets.
Thirty people who own homes on Lithia-Pinecrest Road have filed papers with the county to have their land included in the district.
Gates, who plans to sell his home once the new zoning kicks in, is among them.
"If the zoning is changed that means I can sell it for business or professional use," he said. "It's not a good place for residential anymore."
To learn more
Hillsborough County hosts a meeting to discuss the Lithia-Pinecrest business and professional office district March 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Brandon Community Center, 502 E Sadie Street. For more information, call 276-8335.