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Trail users wary of 2 projects on 22 acres

Some fear a high-traffic business, such as a fast-food restaurant, will be built near the Upper Tampa Bay Trail.

By JACKIE RIPLEY

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 24, 2001


CARROLLWOOD -- A plan to develop land near the Upper Tampa Bay Trail has some trail users worried about having to dodge traffic while they exercise.

They're especially concerned that plans might include a convenience store or fast-food restaurant.

"I'm concerned it would attract a great deal of automobile traffic," said Janet Hiltz, who rides her bicycle on the trail. "If you put a big business there, like a convenience store with gas pumps, you'll get even more traffic."

Two companies each want to build on the roughly 22 acres near the Veterans Expressway. The proposed development at the corner of Wilsky Boulevard and Linebaugh Avenue has some worried that the added traffic will make it more difficult to cross Wilsky to get to the trail. Even though county rules call for more stringent zoning regulations when property is developed close to a county park, the trail has never been noted on the developers' site plans.

"They show a county landfill and driving range but no trail," said Charner Reese, principal planner with the Hillsborough County department of planning and growth management. "The parks department has certain requirements that need to be recognized on a site plan."

Exacerbating the problem is the lack of a sidewalk on the west side of Wilsky north of Linebaugh. Nothing can be built on that stretch because it is protected wetlands.

"The only sidewalk is on the east side, and they should take that into account in designing driveway access," Reese said. "If Wilsky is necessary as an access point, it should be designed so that drivers are alerted to potential conflict with pedestrians and bicyclists."

Badcock Co. wants to build an office, warehouse and showroom on one 11-acre parcel.

On the other 11 acres, Cornerstone Communities wants to build a business complex.

Of special concern to trail officials is a 5-acre parcel slated for "specialty retail."

"Our concern is more with the 5-acre outparcel and that whoever purchases it after the fact abides by the rules," said Tina Russo, trail manager for Hillsborough County's parks and recreation department. "They need to know that there is park property so many yards from there, which changes the rules as far as alcohol."

-- Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 226-3468.

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