Higginbotham Gets Unanimous Approval For LDC Amendment To Assist Local Farmers

By Tamas Mondovics

While the country contemplates the outcome of the 2012 elections, Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, District 4, begins another two years on the Hillsborough County Commission.

Collecting 58 percent of the vote against opponents Mark Nash, a Democrat, and Joy Green, who ran with no party affiliation, Higginbotham clearly won his new term by a wide margin.

Higginbotham was first elected to the seat in a special election six years ago. District 4, represents eastern Hillsborough, which includes south of State Road 60, east of Interstate 75 as well as Plant City, the commissioner’s home town.

Higginbotham emphasized that his win for another two-year term has to do with him and his staff’s hard work to stabilize county spending, preserve public transportation in eastern Hillsborough and diversify the county’s economy.

Higginbotham’s continued presence on the BOCC is welcomed by local farmers as well.

Thanks to Higginbotham’s efforts, just days prior to election day, Board of County Commissioners successfully and unanimous approved an amendment to the Land Development Code, which now allows farmers to continue their agricultural operations in land rezoned to Planned Development.

A Planned Development is defined in the LDC as “land under unified control to be planned and developed as a whole in a single development operation…” Hillsborough County Development Services estimates that there are approximately 2,500 planned developments in the county.

Higginbotham sponsored, and the Board of County Commissioners approved, a motion to direct the County Attorney’s Office to research the amendment in response to a rezoning application on the agenda.

“This is truly a team effort by the Board of County Commissioners, who all realize the value the agriculture community adds to Hillsborough County,” Higginbotham said. “With the approval of this amendment, we will increase the utilization of these vacant parcels across the county.”

Examples include subdivisions, town homes, apartments, mixed used developments, medical complexes, and other projects that require greater flexibility than otherwise provided by the code.

Hillsborough County’s Agriculture Industry Development Program estimated that in 2010, agriculture contributed $815 million to the Tampa Bay economy. A majority of the acreage resides in District 4.

For more information about Hillsborough County Planed development please visit www.hillsboroughcounty.org.