Bloomingdale Big Box Development Gets Green Light As Mediation Reaches Agreement

By Tamas Mondovics

Bloomingdale Big Box Update


To give the community an opportunity to discuss the recent outcome involving
the Big Box development, Cando has planned to host a community meeting on
Wednesday, July 30 at the Bloomingdale Regional Library at 7 p.m. in Room 8.
Cando stated, “We would like an opportunity to clarify how we arrived at the
decision to pursue mediation as opposed to continuing the litigation. {We}
will answer questions which do not pertain directly to the mediation
settlement terms (by law, the mediation agreement and its terms must stay
confidential.” It is also requesting help in paying off the outstanding
legal fees.

 

Location

Bloomingdale Public Library
Start Time 7/30/2014 7:00 PM
End Time 7/30/2014 8:30 PM
Description CanDo Community Update Meeting – Settlement of Mediation and Ongoing Community Efforts
Category Meeting
All Day Event
Recurrence

 

The outcome of the much anticipated judge-ordered mediation process, following a law suit filed by the Bloomingdale community against Hillsborough County and developer Red Cast Bloomingdale LLC, turned out to be a bitter pill to swallow for residents this month.

Prompting more questions than answers, many residents are likely wondering if their fight on behalf of their community has reached its end, while leaving them feeling more betrayed than when the battle began more than a year ago.

The disappointment came in a statement to residents by Coordinated Active Neighborhoods for Development Organization (Can-Do), which has taken the role of representing the community.

Can-Do stated, “In joining Plaintiff Fred Brown, Bloomingdale Can-Do and its officers have resolved all claims against Hillsborough County and developer Red Cast Bloomingdale LLC.

After several rounds of meetings with representatives from Red Cast Bloomingdale LLC and Hillsborough County, Brown and the officers of Can-Do acknowledge that the project has the potential to enhance the neighborhood and surrounding community.

The developer has shown a willingness to cooperate and listen to the community’s concerns.

Due to restrictions under mediation, the board members of Can-Do who participated in the mediation are bound by the agreement and cannot discuss the details of the mediation.”

For the past 18 months, the community, led by Can-Do, has been involved in a fight to halt the development of a giant retail store and a residential complex project within their neighborhood encompassing a 158,800 sq. ft. big box store—most still believe to be a Walmart Supercenter or a similar retailer, five out-parcels as well as a residential complex with 261 apartments or condominiums. The plan calls for close to 1,000 proposed parking spaces.

The community has fought against the project and questioned the entire process, which they said was concocted behind their backs with no proper communication to the community and without consideration for the negative effect the project will have on the neighborhood.

Area residents did not hesitate to express their dismay over the recent court-ordered development including the much-anticipated outcome of the mediation process, which was authorized and backed by the residents themselves.

“Folded like a bad lawn chair,” Scott Neidig wrote in the comment section on Can-Do’s Facebook page. “I am so disappointed.”

Another resident, Scott Cline, simply wrote, “Can-do can’t do……”

One of the most thought provoking comments that seem to be representing the majority came from Deletha Hardin, who wrote, “I am expecting there will be a meeting to explain what ‘willingness to cooperate’ and ‘potential to enhance’ mean, right?”

Unfortunately, according to Attorney Pamela Joe Hatley representing Brown and indirectly the community, Hardin will not be getting any explanation or clarification anytime soon.

“Anything that has been said during mediation is confidential by law and cannot be revealed, ever,” Hatley said. “The community got their answer and the answer is that there was an agreement and the case is settled, and all claims have been resolved.”

Hatley emphasized that the mediation is a give-and-take process, which means the parties involved have to come to an agreement that benefits both sides.

Local resident Mark Nash, who is currently running for District 7 (at large) County Commissioner seat, said, “The community should have known about this project from the very start. This outcome is clearly the result of the way the development was allowed to move forward, including the land development changes that were executed to keep the project on track.

This is an example of why residents need to be aware of what’s going on while government officials must be the advocates for the community.”

The problem most people have is not knowing what that “agreement” really is as it will not be revealed to the community—at least not by those involved in the current courtroom drama—until the start of the construction, which can now move forward without anyone knowing what will actually be built on the 42-acre parcel in the heart of the neighborhood.

“This makes no sense,” said one Bloomingdale area resident. “After all this effort, how can we be involved with our community if we aren’t allowed to know what is happening in our own neighborhood?”

A community once again in the dark, no funds, bills to be paid incurred during the court and mediation process and only questions that are not allowed to have answers, residents can now cross their fingers and hope for the best.

Can-Do currently has no meetings scheduled or planned to discuss the matter.

For more information, visit www.kwuick.com/BloomingdaleBigBox/SitePages/Position.aspx.