By Tamas Mondovics
With a new lawsuit against Hillsborough County and Red Cast Bloomingdale LLC on the horizon, members of the Bloomingdale Homeowners Association (HOA) joined by surrounding HOA officers met this month to confirm their desire to pursue their fight for the community.
The effort involves the now well-known Bloomingdale Big Box and residential project planned for a 42-acre parcel just east of the Bloomingdale Regional Library.
“We are not giving up,” said Mason Oaks resident Jack Franklin, who attended the meeting, which served as a means to share and discuss the various ways by which the effort to move forward can be launched.
The renewed effort comes on the heels of the outcome of the much-anticipated, judge-ordered mediation process, following an earlier lawsuit filed by the community represented by Coordinated Active Neighborhoods for Development Organization (Can-Do) against the County and the developer.
Residents were not shy to express their disappointment upon learning that the details of the mediation cannot be revealed, and that Plaintiff Fred Brown, Bloomingdale Can-Do and its officers have resolved all claims of the suit.
Many were even more puzzled by the statement that the officers of Can-Do acknowledge that “the project has the potential to enhance the neighborhood and surrounding community.”
According to Bloomingdale HOA President George May, the results of the mediation made no sense and only gave residents a boost to move forward with renewed zeal to protect their community. Instead of backing down, residents have begun seeking a new way to once again get involved to fight for their neighborhood.
“Our recent meeting, which saw representatives of about 10 HOAs and some other guests, revealed a strong interest in continuing our fight to stop the Big Box development,” May said. “We do not want this development in our neighborhood. It is wrong for our community and it must be stopped.”
May said that a number of community-oriented elements will be utilized in moving forward, including a letter writing campaign to Wal-Mart Corporation, the believed anchor store of the project.
“Alerting local residents by means of newsletters and the local media, fundraising to cover the expenses and most importantly the filing of a new lawsuit against Hillsborough County and the developer are all now on the table,” May said.
The community is now seeking an attorney who preferably lives in the community and who has some expertise dealing with land development issues.
Rallying the community to once again roll up their sleeves may be a repeat undertaking, but according to May, the issues and the reasons for the new endeavor have not changed.
“Safety is my number one concern,” he said. “I am worried about what this project will do to our roadways. I personally fear the traffic nightmare that this development will create, not to mention the County’s wrongful process of changing the land development code from a Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) to a Mixed Use Development (MUD), which ultimately gave the project a green light.”
While community advocate George Niemann was pleased to hear about the renewed zeal, the HOAs joining forces as well as the various means, with which residents can get involved to support the cause, including the proposed law suit, he warned about the need to act quickly.
“I am glad that the Bloomingdale community is not giving up,” he said. “It is not only the right thing to do, but it is the only thing to do. There is very little time to act. If this development moves forward as it is planned right now, it will destroy our community.”
A public community meeting is now scheduled to be held on Wednesday, July 30, at 7 p.m. at the Bloomingdale Regional Library to discuss the project and hear from residents about the effort.
More information can be found at www.bloomingdalehoa.com.