By Tamas Mondovics
In their continued fight against a proposed big box store and apartment complex development within their neighborhood, Bloomingdale area residents had a clear and unwavering message to motorists, county representatives and land development officials earlier this month.
Armed with signs and placards, most of which read “No Big Box,” residents showed no sign of slowing in their battle. They numbered more than 150 as they lined the south side of Bloomingdale Ave. (from the YMCA to Bloomingdale High School) and Lithia Pinecrest (from Lithia Oaks subdivision to Bloomingdale Ave.) near the Bloomingdale Regional Library, greeting the evening rush-hour traffic.
“We had an overflow crowd at our last neighborhood meeting, so we are spilling out into the streets to make sure everyone knows about this mismatched development,” said Tammy Madison, secretary of the Lithia Oaks Homeowners Association and member of the Coordinated Active Neighborhoods for Development Organization (CAN-DO) steering committee.
Madison added, “We need everyone to come out to say ‘no more traffic, no more unsafe intersections, no more school overcrowding, no more decrease in property values, no more environmental devastation, no Bloomingdale big box store.’”
Bloomingdale area resident, Jeremy Monette, who during an earlier meeting voiced his dismay over what he called the county’s lack of communication to residents about the project and apparent, uncooperative behavior, spoke highly of the turnout as well as his fellow neighbors’ commitment to fight the development.
“The turnout for this street protest is just spectacular,” Monette said. “The support speaks volumes of the people that come to gather to protect their community, schools, environment and roads.”
Monette emphasized that the issues are many, however, one major concern in connection with the proposed development is safety for both pedestrians as well as motorists as the area roads will be hit with extra traffic.
The Alafia Elementary School PTA president agreed, and put things in perspective when she said, “We are a walking school. The extra traffic will cause a big problem and an unsafe situation for our students.”
The Bloomingdale MUD ( Mixed Use Development) proposed by Redstone Properties Inc., involves plans for 158,800 sq. ft. big box store—most believe to be a Wal-Mart—with 720 proposed parking spaces, five out-parcels as well as a residential complex sporting 261 apartments.
With more and more signing up to support the fight against the project on Facebook and change.org, the signed petition is nearing a 1,000-signature mark.
CAN-DO is encouraging residents to contact county commissioners, including Al Higginbotham, who represents this section of Hillsborough County, and sign the petition “Walmart: Stop Plans to Build a Supercenter in Valrico, Florida” online at www.change.org and linked from CAN-DO’s website, www.bloomingdalebigbox.com.
CAN-DO is a grassroots organization of residents and homeowners associations who are advocating for sensible development in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Hillsborough County, Florida.
For more information, visit www.bloomingdalebigbox.com or www.facebook.com/bloomingdalebigbox.
People can also get involved and follow the effort at www.facebook.com/bloomingdalebigbox.com.