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City Council to vote today on Wilderness Crossings annex

The attorney for the property owners says the annexation may have benefits for the city, too.

By BILL COATS
Published January 18, 2007


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BRANCHTON - When city officials first heard about a plan to annex 379 acres in far north Hillsborough County into the city, they feared another big housing development was brewing.

The Fire Department already is stretched thin along Morris Bridge Road. How could it handle more homes?

Don't worry, answered Sean Donnelly, the attorney representing the 16 property owners in Wilderness Crossings. These people want to be in the city, but to stay country.

"We're not looking to develop the property," he said. "In fact, most of the people out there want it to stay the same."

But they want the right to someday tap into the city's water and sewer systems, which are being extended up Morris Bridge Road for K-Bar Ranch, a 1,600-home development under way west of the road.

The applicants, who live off the southeast corner of Morris Bridge Road and the Pasco County line, rely today on wells and septic tanks.

So Thursday, the Tampa City Council is to vote on whether to bring this rural expanse of farms and scattered, ranch-style houses into the city.

The staff doesn't object. It recommends that within two years, the area be given city land restrictions comparable to the current county rules: one home per 10 acres, said Gloria Moreda, the city's manager of land development coordination.

Moreda said the water and sewer needs aren't a problem. "They are in the area that we would have to service anyway," she said. When property owners connect to city utility lines, they pay the expense of that.

Donnelly said the annexation might help the city solve its Fire Department response problems, because the Wilderness Crossings acres would become an eligible location for a new fire station.

Moreda didn't dispute that. "The city is trying to find a site in that area," she said.

Bill Coats can be reached at 813 269-5309 or coats@sptimes.com.

[Last modified January 18, 2007, 05:52:32]


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