State Rep. James Grant hosted an open meeting on Wednesday evening at the Carrollwood Recreation Center to receive input on the requested rezoning for the proposed "Hudson Market Redevelopment," which includes a Walmart Neighborhood Grocery and Wawa convenience store/gas station. (See my April 24 blog post, "Residents React to Developer's Proposed Rezoning at Floyd and Dale Mabry," for rezoning details).
The meeting was standing room only, with over 200 residents from Floyd Road, Hudson Lane, Hudson Way, Original Carrollwood, Carrollwood Village and several other local neighborhoods gathering to ask questions and provide input on the proposed changes.
Grant was joined by State Sen. Jim Norman, and they moderated the discussion with support from a coalition of citizen's who have assembled the group, 813CARe (813/Carrollwood Against Rezoning). (Full disclosure: I am a member of that group).
Grant and Norman both stated their opposition to the rezoning proposal.
A key point that the speakers repeatedly reinforced is that the community not focused on the particular vendor selection for this property. Rather, we need to be clear that our opposition is to any type of development of this size and scope being implemented on this piece of property. The developer happens to have two interested parties, but it could be any big box chain or convenience store, and the community would be opposed.
The audience did agree that they are satisfied with the current approved zoning (light retail/office and 37 single family residences), and happily support the property being developed along those lines.
Key points of concern voiced by residents were:
- Incompatible: The proposed zoning is incompatible with the community design, and will counter the careful planning that was put into this area of Carrollwood.
- Volume: Estimates place an additional 5,000 cars on Dale Mabry in the Greater Carrollwood area if the rezoning is approved. This part of Dale Mabry is already overly congested, and can ill afford additional volume. Increased volumes also mean longer commute times which will affect anyone traveling southbound on Dale Mabry to their place of work.
- Neighborhood Traffic: Creating an intersection at Floyd Road and Dale Mabry will open surrouding neighborhoods to more cut through traffic. Extensive traffic calming measures have been taken on Orange Grove and Lake Carroll Way to discourage cutting through, and the egress to Gunn Highway was closed to stem similar issues on Hudson Way and Hudson Lane. However, the success of these measures has been limited, and will further deteriorate with additional traffic volumes.
- Road conditions: The roads in Carrollwood neighborhoods are in poor condition, and the county does not have the funds to maintain them properly today. The additional traffic will further stress and deteriorate the roadways.
- Safety: There are two schools on Orange Grove Drive, and a bus stop at the dead end of Floyd Road and Hudson Way - about 24 children use it - as well as at other points on Hudson Lane. The increased traffic will increase safety concerns for these children as they travel to and from school and play in the communities.
- Crime and property values: While difficult to document these two issues, it was the consensus of the attendees that adding a big box chain/large convenience/gas station would lead to higher crime and devalued property (particularly for residential communities and properties on the immediate border).
- Slowed access for emergency response workers: It will take longer for ambulances, fire trucks and police to access the communities on Floyd Road, Hudson Lane and Hudson Way as vehicles will be required to work their way along a duo of two-lane roads congested with consumer traffic.
There also were many questions about the process that the rezoning request must follow:
- Step 1. There is a meeting scheduled for June 11 where the zoning officer will meet with representatives from Greater Carrollwood and the developer, Brightwork Real Estate. Each side will have an unlimited amount of time to present and discuss the technical details of their position. The zoning officer acts as a 'judge' who will then prepare a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) in support of or against the petition.
- Step 2. A "land use" hearing will then be scheduled with the BoCC. The commissioners will be acting as judges in this situation as well, and will vote for or against the petition. The developer and community representatives will each receive 15 minutes to present their case. It is at this meeting that a strong showing of community support in the audience is critical to reinforce to the Commissioners where the residents of Carrollwood stand on the issue. This meeting will not be scheduled until after Step 1 is completed.
It is the intent of 813CARe to serve as the community representatives at both meetings and welcome every resident, business leader and worker in Greater Carrollwood to join the group.
If you do wish to join, either send an e-mail to 813CARe@gmail.com or "like" us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/813CARe/319312468138864
The Wednesday night meeting concluded around 8:30 p.m., and work will continue by 813CARe to prepare the community position paper to submit to the zoning office in advance of the June 11 meeting.