I-4 study to be finished before growth guidelines change

County commissioners have voted to postpone land use changes after about 20 people speak against an industrial park.

By Catherine E. Shoichet, Times Staff Writer
Published March 7, 2008


County commissioners unanimously voted against the land use change developers need to build an industrial park near Interstate 4 and McIntosh Road last week.

But that doesn't mean M.L. Carter Development of Orlando won't have a chance to build on the 94-acre property eventually.

"On paper, if you look at this, it's great. It's a great idea," Commissioner Brian Blair said. "We do need more light industrial. We do need places to grow."

But Blair and other commissioners said they wanted to wait for county planners to complete their study of the I-4 corridor before changing the county's growth guidelines in that area.

And time, several commissioners said, is of the essence.

Commissioners also voted 4-2 to speed up the study and require staff to finish it in the next year.

"If you want economic development, you've got to look and see what is available still for it, and you've got to move quickly for it," Commissioner Jim Norman said. "If not, you're going to have more development ... which is the wrong development. It doesn't bring jobs here."

Representatives of the developer told commissioners the property was the perfect spot for an industrial park and could draw high-paying jobs to Hillsborough.

"The county's missing many opportunities," attorney Vincent Marchetti said.

But about 20 people spoke against M.L. Carter's proposal, which they said would jeopardize the county's rural communities.

"This is absolutely outrageous that you would even consider this," said Terry Flott, president of the Seffner Community Alliance.

Grace McComas, who lives near the property, said the project would create more traffic than U.S. 92 could bear.

"It's a curved, two-lane road, and it's not going to be at this point in time changed from rural just to suit this one gentleman," she said.

One person spoke in favor of the project: David Campo of Riverview.

"This parcel ought to be the poster child for this debate, the no-growthers vs. the people that want some economic development in this county," he said. "If you're not going to allow this parcel to become economically developed, then don't ever consider anything again."

The commission voted 6-0 against the land use change. Commissioner Kevin White left before the vote.

After that, Marchetti withdrew another proposal on the agenda: allowing the extension of utilities into rural areas for "economic development."

Commissioners were scheduled to vote on two other controversial amendments related to property in northwest Hillsborough, but hours before last week's meeting, developer Stephen J. Dibbs withdrew his requests.

The last-minute changes drew harsh criticism from many of the residents gathered - and at least one county commissioner.

"This continues to make a mockery of our system and beat down our citizens that come here to speak," Commissioner Rose Ferlita said.

Times staff writer Rodney Thrash contributed to this report. Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at cshoichet@sptimes.com or 661-2454.