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Decision due on New Tampa development

The City Council will consider the fate of 213 acres, land in a "unique'' situation environmentally.

By SUSAN THURSTON

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 10, 2001


TAMPA -- A chunk of vacant land along the Hillsborough/Pasco county line could become New Tampa's next development with stores, offices and homes.

Land owners along Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and County Line Road have asked the city to rezone 213-acres to allow for a residential and retail development. The land was annexed into the city in 1998 but still has the county's agricultural designation.

The City Council will decide the issue at a hearing set for 6:30 p.m. April 12 at City Hall, 315 E Kennedy Blvd.

Preliminary plans show stores and offices along County Line Road and Bruce B. Downs and homes behind them. A nature preserve would go along Trout Creek on the western edge of the property.

The unnamed development just north of Wharton High School would sit between the proposed Live Oaks to the east and Grand Hampton to the west. Live Oaks and Grand Hampton each call for about 1,600 houses. The area is one of the fastest-growing sections of the city.

The proposal comes from the Scala Group and the 683 Group, which represent several family members who own the land. If the rezoning is approved, it is unknown when developers would start building, said Terry Cullen, a planner for the planning commission. The rezoning would allow about 21/2 homes per acre, compared with 1 unit per acre under the existing county zoning. It also would allow for a school.

Any plans would have to address the development's impact on the wildlife and roads, he said. More than one-quarter of the land, or 58 acres, qualifies as wetlands and cannot be developed. Some of the other 155-acres is home to sensitive plants and animals.

"The whole area up there is unique," Cullen said. The rezoning application includes access routes to the development from County Line Road and Bruce B. Downs. It also shows a possible entrance to Grand Hampton over Trout Creek, which would create a second entrance to the development.

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