SEFFNER — The owners of an approved borrow pit at County Road 579 and Joe Ebert Road are seeking a rezoning that would transform a portion of the property into a subdivision, once the dirt-hauling ceases.
The rezoning request for the 89-acre site is scheduled to go before a Hillsborough County Zoning Hearing Master Dec. 16, then to the Board of County Commissioners Jan. 11, 2014.
Residents of the nearby Bloomfield Hills subdivision fought unsuccessfully to stop the issuance of a special-use permit for the borrow pit, saying it would put too much traffic on an already busy CR 579. Still, the county approved the pit, which will reportedly supply fill dirt for improvements to the Gandy Bridge and expansion of Interstate 275, among other projects. An operating permit application is now under review.
The excavation is expected to yield 1.9 million cubic yards of dirt over the next eight years. But the second phase can’t proceed until the rezoning for the subdivision is approved, said County Planner Colleen Marshall.
The county requires borrow pit owners to provide a reclamation plan, to avoid simply leaving gigantic holes in the ground. This request calls for construction of one house per acre.
More than 25 borrow pits have been approved over the years within a five-mile radius in the Seffner-Thonotosassa area. The area is ripe for such uses because it is part of Florida’s ancient sand-dune system, sitting higher and dryer than most land on the peninsula. Still, residents in Bloomfield Hills, which Marshall verified was built on a former borrow pit, fought against the Graceland excavation site, as it is called. They were counting on a 2008 county rule change setting more stringent requirements for borrow pits. One of the new rules increased the buffers between residential development and subdivisions from 100 feet to 500 feet. But, land- use attorney Judith James secured a waiver for the buffer facing Bloomfield Hills, arguing that if the buffer were 500 feet, the operators would have to dig deeper and ruin the site for a future subdivision.
James did not return phone calls for comment, nor did anyone from June Engineering, listed as one of the owners of the Graceland site.
The rezoning request for the subdivision calls for construction of 38 one-acre lots for single family homes. The entrance to the project would be on CR 579.