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Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
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Hostile crowd confronts county about lack of road planning in Brandon

BRANDON — They came to Bloomingdale High School to hear how residents would like to see developer money spent to reduce the impact of a big box store and apartment complex scheduled to go in next to the Bloomingdale Regional Library.

What the Hillsborough County Public Works staff got Tuesday night instead was a flood of raw anger from several hundred residents who say the county has done little to improve a road system that will be overburdened by the development it has been approving for years.

Neither side presented a plan to use the $564,000 the developer, Red Cast LLC, will ante up to offset an additional 8,000 trips a day on to Bloomingdale Avenue.

After two hours, residents got few answers to their questions about what the county can do with that money to abate traffic problems in the area. And county staffers heard few details from residents about exactly what the residents would like them to do.

In the end, Public Works Director John Lyons said he is amenable to meeting with a small group of residents to brainstorm how to best use the money. That may mean postponing his recommendation to county commissioners, which he had planned to make on Feb. 19, he said.

This development has been contentious from the beginning, with residents accusing the county of sneaking in changes to the land-use code in 2011 that allows a so-called big box story next to the library. Residents formed an opposition group called CAN-DO, or Coordinated Active Neighbors for Development Organization.

When the county refused to reverse its changes, CAN-DO sued. That suit is still pending.

George Niemann, a member of CAN-DO who suggested Lyons meet with a small group for a brainstorming session, said it will be a “real challenge” to find something both sides can agree on.

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