Early victory in fight to protect mangrove wetlands on Tampa Bay
Thanks to all who wrote letters opposing the rezoning of sensitive coastal wetlands on Tampa Bay next to E.G. Simmons Park, we’ve won an early victory!Heading into a buzz-saw of public opposition, the rezoning request has been changed to a more restrictive category than the category originally applied for. The application has been changed to ASC-1(R) — the “R” means “restricted” — and county staff have added a zoning condition restricting the development to 10 houses. This is now looking a LOT better than the original application for an unrestricted ASC-1 category, which had a density of 1 house per 1 acre across all 170 acres — including the wetlands & mangroves! Although we knew they couldn’t build 170 houses on 1-acre lots on top of the mangroves standing knee-deep in the bay, our main concern was that they (or some future owner) could use those “entitlements” in a future rezoning to cluster 170 units into condos on the beach in this sensitive area. Although they can always come back and ask for more in another zoning, now that the new 10-unit cap has been added on, we have been assured by county planners that this zoning will not make it any easier for the property to become a Little-Harbor style wad of condos on the bay. While there may be good reasons to oppose even 10 new houses on this delicate site, that much is moot given that the Comprehensive Plan years ago gave this parcel a green light for some residential development, and neither the Planning Commission nor the Environmental Protection Commission, nor any agencies have objected to the proposal. I’ll continue participating in the process, along with Sierra Club & U-CAN, because last-minute changes are fairly common at zoning hearings, and if nobody shows up, that condition for a 10-unit maximum could get scratched off. If you have anything you’d like to tell the zoning hearing master and/or our commissioners, feel free to come join us. (If you do want to speak, download this packet, note these hearing dates, and be sure to jump through all the Party-of-Record hoops.) But as long as that 10-unit condition stays on, thanks to all your letters, we really don’t need to fill the room for the zoning hearing. We’ll keep you posted if the zoning takes a turn for the worse and we need a crowd at the final hearing after all. Please forward this message to anyone you forwarded the first alert to, in order to keep everyone updated. Thanks, again, to all who care enough about our community and our environment to help!