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Hillsborough considers specifying carnival storage areas

TAMPA — Show business folks here have had issues for years with where they can legally store their carnival rides, corn dog stands and big rigs when they are home during the off season.

Hillsborough County made some accommodations for them in the late 1990s by creating a Show Business Overlay Zone in Gibsonton where many of them live.

A proposed amendment to the county’s Comprehensive Plan, now being considered, would go a step further by spelling out specific geographic boundaries for any future additions to that overlay zone. Those boundaries run from western Riverview Drive to the east of Interstate 75 near Bullfrog Creek Road, and south to Old Big Bend Road. That covers more than 10,000 acres.

Still, it may not be enough, county planners concede.

“The show business industry wants to make sure there is ample land for their continued success,” said Marcie Stenmark, a planner with the Hillsborough County Planning Commission. After hearing from some that the suburbanization of Gibsonton is making it more difficult for them and their animal acts to live comfortably, the planning staff added a caveat to the amendment, calling for a future study to consider increasing the overlay zone.

The Planning Commission, on Monday, found the amendment consistent with its plan for future growth, but deleted the call for a future study. It’s not that they don’t favor such a study, some said. They just don’t think it needs to be included in the comprehensive plan.

In fact, said Planning Commissioner Brian Hollands, there may come a time when the county needs to consider where else in Hillsborough County besides Gibsonton that carnival storage should be allowed.

“I’m not opposed to a geographic restriction, but I am opposed that we, as a county, are telling people that based on their profession, there is only one geographic area in which they can live.”

Attorney Pamela Jo Hatley represents some homeowners in deed-restricted subdivisions that already have issues with the county expanding show business storage. Adding a call for a future expansion study just adds to their anxiety, she said.

“It takes away some certainty by opening the door to a future expansion study without setting out any triggering criteria or data” for that study, she said.

This comp plan amendment was prompted by a call in 2011 from 40 property owners in Riverview’s Tropical Acres to be included in the show business overlay zone. Instead, the county approved an amendment to its land development code that allowed them to continue storing carnival equipment on their property under a “legal non-conforming use.” They can apply for that designation through April 2014. After that, only people with property in the overlay zone or its future expansion area can store show business equipment at their homes.

The matter now moves on to a County Commission workshop scheduled for Jan. 29.

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