Carnival equipment storage OK'd for Tropical Acres
The Hillsborough County Commission last week unanimously approved a compromise land-use change that allows residents of the rural Tropical Acres neighborhood to legally store carnival equipment at their homes.
During the second public hearing on the issue, few from the public showed up to protest. During previous meetings, dozens from nearby deed-restricted subdivisions showed up, fearing the limited land-use change would somehow sanction such practices elsewhere.
About 40 property owners from Tropical Acres had come to the county in 2011 asking that their property be rezoned for inclusion in a Show Business Overlay Zone meant to allow legal storage of tractor-trailers, food trailers, RVs and other show equipment. The Show Business Overlay Zone mostly affects people in Gibsonton. The opposition was heavy.
County staff came up with a compromise – a change in the land-use code that would grandfather in those who already were illegally storing equipment in Tropical Acres.
Those who can now have their property considered a legal non-conforming use must have been storing equipment at their homes since at least 2011. No future property owners will be included in the conditional use.
Landowners who leave the carnival business or those who let the equipment sit idol for too long will have that legal non-conforming use eliminated.
The few that showed up to oppose the land-use code change, said approving it would do nothing more than reward people who for years had violated the county code.
“It allows willful violators to be legal, as opposed to enforcing the law,” said Dan Levintry, of the 1,500-home Rivercrest community, which sits close to Tropical Acres.
But Judy James, a land-use planner representing the homeowners who wanted the legal storage, said it was a compromise, with conditions, worked on between her and the county staff. It restricts storage of exotic animals, allows only very minor maintenance on trucks and other equipment and requires that outside storage be screened, she said.
“Many have been there over 25 years,” James said. “This is not a new use or something that will perpetrate around the county.”