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2 development plans get board's initial approval

By JACKIE RIPLEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 14, 2000


TAMPA -- One community plan promises a future of neo-traditional neighborhoods complete with narrow, interconnecting streets leading to work, school and shopping. The other promises a future where sidewalks, street lights and county water are shunned and open space is king.

Both got a nod from Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission this week.

The Northwest/Citrus Park plan, crafted by Miami-based Duany, Plater, Zyberk & Co., Hillsborough County planners and residents, was recommended for approval by the Planning Commission; the board also recommended approval of the Keystone/Odessa plan, created by the Planning Commission staff and residents.

The public hearing on the Northwest/Citrus Park plan drew positive response from residents who praised its thrust to create pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods.

The only wrinkle was a last-minute request by Tampa Bay Downs for a provision that would identify the horse track property as a special entertainment center for equestrian use. The board voted to continue working with Tampa Bay Downs on the specifics of that proposal.

The Keystone/Odessa plan drew nearly twice as many opponents as supporters, in part because it limits commercial development. The plan would ban new commercial rezonings indefinitely, except at the Fox's Corner intersection.

"You're squashing property rights," said professional planner Michael Horner, representing a Keystone property owner.

Opponents of the plan also complained about the congestion on Gunn Highway and danger from speeding traffic. Those comments promoted Planning Commissioner Dottie Berger to suggest a letter be sent to Hillsborough County commissioners outlining residents' concerns about the road's inadequate capacity.

Residents in favor of the plan praised its protection of the area's environmental riches, open spaces and well fields.

"We've got tree frogs by the thousands," said Hugo Keim, who lives on 58 acres in Odessa with his wife, Alicia. "Do not let real estate developers ruin our piece of heaven."

The proposals go to the Hillsborough County Commission in coming months. As amendments to the county's long-range plan, they would next go to the Hillsborough County Commission and then to Tallahassee for approval by state growth management officials then return to the Hillsborough County Commission in September.

- Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 226-3468 or ripley@sptimes.com.

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