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Business

Rezoning on County Line horizon?

By BILL COATS
Published May 18, 2007


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Jo Ann Diaz remember when she could take a leisurely walk down County Line Road.

Gayle Holden felt like she was living in the country.

What used to be rural now fronts a bustling shopping center. And county officials will soon consider whether landowners such as Holden and Diaz can sell their property for commercial use.

"The residents there are saying, 'Who's going to buy my property when it's across from a Target?' and they've got a pretty good case, " said Peter Aluotto, the county's new director of Planning and Growth Management.

So Aluotto plans to seek the County Commission's permission, probably in July, to study whether the rural residential zonings along County Line should be changed.

He said quiet uses such as a veterinarian or real estate offices might fit there.

"We're not talking about putting a gas station in."

Despite any rezoning, and despite the new shopping center being finished at the northeast corner of County Line and N Dale Mabry Highway, businesses that could go on the Hillsborough side would be limited. The county still classifies central and eastern Lutz as rural, requiring landowners there to rely on wells and septic tanks.

"I am very interested in rezoning, " said Diaz, who owns 10 acres, much of it fronting County Line. "There's no alternative."

Diaz and her husband, Tony, bought the land 34 years ago. They envisioned gradually dividing it into lots, and selling those for a retirement fund. Hillsborough County buttressed those plans with land-use policies aimed at keeping the area rural.

But a growing Pasco County brought startling change. Pasco approved urban and suburban uses just across the road, and built Willow Bend Parkway to funnel east-west commuters down County Line.

Then Pasco okayed the shopping center, including three exits onto County Line.

"I feel my property value has decreased, " said Holden, a 52-year-old former surgical nurse. "There's no way I can be convinced that anybody's going to buy my property with the mess that it's in now."

A month after Aluotto took over the planning department, he got an earful from angry County Line Road residents in March, at a meeting at McKittrick Elementary School. Aluotto's rezoning study is one response.

He suggested that a row of properties fronting County Line could be rezoned, with properties behind them remaining residential and a wall or other separation between the two areas. Larger properties could be split into two zoning categories at the separation line, Aluotto said.

Holden thinks such changes could be her ticket to move away.

"I'd be looking for something that's not going to be developed for 20 years, " she said.

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

[Last modified May 17, 2007, 07:30:29]


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