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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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Hillsborough administrator says ‘big box’ issue won’t be repeated

BRANDON — Hillsborough’s government needs to do a better job of planning, County Administrator Mike Merrill told local business leaders at a luncheon this week.

“What happened recently with the Bloomingdale big-box (store) is not acceptable,” he said, adding that the issue “has been fixed.”

That fix, said county Zoning Administrator Joe Moreda, is that his staff is undertaking a review of the “mixed-use district” to determine where it fits best in the county and where it does not. The review will not affect plans for the proposed big-box store in Bloomingdale, which county officials already have approved.

Residents near the site, which is next to the Bloomingdale Regional Library and near Bloomingdale High School, are suing the county regarding approval of a code amendment to the county’s land-use plan. Because the mixed-use district was implemented throughout the county, residents near the only parcel affected were not notified.

Developers are planning an apartment complex and possibly a Super Walmart store near the library, which residents say will add to an already chaotic traffic situation.

The community, since last spring, has pushed against approval of the code amendment, saying the county gave the developer a rezoning without going through the correct process. That is the basis of the lawsuit.

Moreda said the county will not consider any more mixed-use district rezoning requests until the review is complete.

“The land-use plan is kind of a mess,” Merrill told members of the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce at the luncheon. “Things that made sense 20 years ago don’t work now.” For one thing, he said, it might be time to look at increasing density more than existing rules require.

Merrill addressed other issues affecting eastern Hillsborough County, including traffic. He said the county is looking into “smart transportation choices” that also could help drive economic growth.

“Brandon has the advantage of having a mature business environment,” which could set it up as a target for future economic development initiatives, he said. But traffic issues must be addressed, he said.

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