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Hearing set on land use plan

The Northwest Plan sets rules for commercial and residential development. It has provisions for maintaining some of the area's rural character.

By JACKIE RIPLEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 11, 2000


CITRUS PARK -- Residents will have a chance to be heard Wednesday during a public hearing on the Northwest Hillsborough Community Plan, bringing the nearly yearlong planning process closer to conclusion,

If accepted by county commissioners and approved by the state Department of Community Affairs, the Northwest Plan would be incorporated into the county's Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

The Northwest Plan was crafted by a Miami consultant, Hillsborough County planners and residents. It spells out specific standards for development in Citrus Park and a surrounding 35-square-mile area.

Separate community plans for Lutz and Keystone/Odessa went through the public hearing process last month. Those plans, drafted by the Hillsborough Planning Commission and residents, seek to customize existing land use laws for areas that want to retain their rural character. (See related story, this page.)

The Northwest Plan, which was developed in a separate process, foresees town centers emerging in Westchase near Tampa Bay Downs, Town 'N Country and Citrus Park near the mall, areas that would be a combination of residential and commercial where higher densities and more urban-style development would be encouraged.

To balance that, the plan calls for protected areas of rural preserves where owners could sell their rights of development to owners of town center property who would then be able to build more than is currently allowed.

If adopted, the plan would offer an alternative to Hillsborough's land development code. It would include design standards and regulations and encourage developers to follow them through market-driven incentives, such as allowing for greater densities in projects that follow the plan.

The public hearing is at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Hillsborough County Center.

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

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