You could see the relief in Leah Wooten's eyes.
"It's been such a long 10 months," Wooten said, standing outside Hillsborough's County Center on Tuesday morning. "It's really gratifying."
For the past 10 months, Wooten and fellow members of 813CARe have protested a proposed Walmart rezoning at the corner of Floyd Road and Dale Mabry Highway. The group spent many mornings waving protest signs along Dale Mabry and showing up to county meetings about the case.
The development would have meant more than 50,000 square feet of commercial space, including a Walmart neighborhood grocery and WaWa convenience store.
Traffic woes, decreased property value and incompatibility with the surrounding neighborhood were at the top of 813CARe's list for disliking the plan.
"It will change the character of Carrollwood," Wooten said, adding that 3,000 opposition letters had been submitted to the commissioners.
Commissioners agreed, voting 6-0 to deny the proposed rezoning. Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller was not in attendance at Tuesday's meeting.
Despite the planning commission and a county land use hearing officer recommending approval for the plan, commissioners decided it was not in the best interest of the community.
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"The community has to be taken into consideration and the direct impact on them needs to be taken into consideration," said County Commissioner Victor Crist, before casting his vote against the plan.
Commissioner Sandra Murman agreed.
"This is a gateway," Murman said. "Dale Mabry is a gateway in Hillsborough County and we’ve got to present ourselves in a great way."
Commissioner Ken Hagan, a Lake Magdalene resident, said Tuesday's decision to deny the request was easy for him.
"I'm intimately familiar with this property in this area," Hagan said. "So this decision has always been an easy one for me."
The vote came just before 11 a.m. on Tuesday after comments were made by both sides in the case.
Jim Porter, an attorney for Walmart, emphasized that the plan had already been recommended for approval and met county land use standards.
"This is not a popularity contest," Porter said. "Taking a step back, we’re asking for a modification to add a grocery store on Dale Mabry and a WaWa convenience store."
The proposed Walmart development would have sat on a 10-acre space at the northwest corner of Floyd Road and North Dale Mabry Highway. The building would have been approximately 48,000-square-foot along with a 6,000-square-foot WaWa convenience store with gas pumps.
813CARe members and opponents to Walmart showed up at Tuesday's meeting in red to show solidarity. Many of them arrived via .
Throughout the hearing and meeting members vocalized their displeasure with certain aspects of the plan and commissioner comments.
"Citizens do have a right to come and express their opinion for how they want to live," said Commissioner Mark Sharpe. "We have to be very cognizant of that and sensitive to it. We've seen the development patterns along the stretch of Dale Mabry and what can occur."
When the commissioners announced their votes the crowd applauded.
Greg Scott, a member of the Burnbrook Homeowners Association which is situated on the west side of Dale Mabry near the proposed development site, said waiting for the final decision on Tuesday was nerve wracking.
"I was initially a little apprehensive," Scott said. "It was a great feeling. It renews my faith in local government and the process."
After the meeting those in red shirts gathered outside the county center.
You can fight city hall and you can win," said Peter Shanahan, carrying a board dotted with pins showing the households that would be affected by the Walmart.
Commissioners weren't naive to the fact that denying the Walmart request, which had passed planning officials' muster, could find its way back in front of them for review - or worse - in court.
"I do think we’ll be back here and have to find a way that everyone will win," Murman said at the end of the meeting.
What do you think about the commission's decision? Share your thoughts in the comments section.