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Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Hillsborough residents can sound off on growth priorities

TAMPA — Hillsborough County residents can tell planners how they’d like the county to develop by 2040 in a visioning project launched online Friday and at kiosks Saturday at The Florida Home Show at the Tampa Convention Center and at University Square Mall.

The Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization and The Planning Commission have created Imagine2040 to gather information on growth strategies, including a “suburban dream,” “bustling metro,” and “new corporate centers” options.

Those strategies involve focusing growth in three ways: new homes and business spread around the county; filling vacant lots and revitalizing older areas around rapid transit stations; and focusing on business growth along major highways along with nearby living opportunities.

Imagine2040 asks participants to rate what’s important among efficient energy and water use, water quality, the impact on natural resources, local farming and redevelopment potential of older properties.

Respondents will be asked about funding preferences for infrastructure: using property, sales, utilities or gas taxes; tolls on new freeway lanes, one-time fees on new development; special assessment districts; or without new taxes by maintaining the status quo.

The survey allows respondents to make open-ended comments on various elements.

The website scheduled to go online Friday is Imagine2040.org. The kiosks will be rotated through 15 county locations through Oct. 17.

The rationale for the project is that planners expect the county will add between 400,000 and 600,000 new residents over the next 25 years.

If there’s a continuation of the trend to build suburban-style neighborhoods, there’s room for only about 67,000 new homes, accommodating about one-third of the expected growth, the Imagine2040 introduction states.

While Tampa Bay is the sixth most congested U.S. metro area, federal reports state, buses reach only about one half of Hillsborough jobs, with limited service hours.

The federal government mandates the MPO to set priorities on projects on a long-range plan that is used to back up funding requests.

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