By Tamas MondovicsSoutShoresystemsupdateStarting with the first of a series of four scheduled meetings earlier last month, representatives of the Hillsborough County Planning Commission have invited residents to review the findings from the previous workshops and the proposed changes to the adopted SouthShore Areawide Systems Plan (SSASP).

County Principal Planner and Project Manager Allison Yeh explained that the plan was developed in 2003 and preceded all other community-based plans in South County followed by a series of workshops that focused on specific challenges and opportunities for the SouthShore area.

The original areas to consider included Transportation, Environmental, Cultural and Historical Development, but Yeh said it was discerned that the community needed one more area to be covered.

“Economic Development is now also included in the plan,” Yeh said. “We heard the community wanted to also look at economic prosperity as an overarching theme that relates to all three topics and so we have added Economic Development as an area.”

Yeh emphasized that the earlier workshops gave residents a chance to say what had and had not been working in the current plan and what they would like to focus on in the plan update.

“The current four meetings now give residents another opportunity to review changes by topic with staff and to ask questions about the process to date including the next steps,” Yeh said.

The Board of County Commissioners approved Community Based Planning work program from 2011, including the update of the SSASP, which generally covers south of Bloomingdale Ave., east of Tampa Bay, north of the Manatee County line and west of the Polk County line encompassing approximately 384 sq. miles.

Individual community plans have now been adopted for Ruskin, Riverview and Apollo Beach (August 2005), Gibsonton (February 2007), Wimauma (November 2007), Sun City Center and Little Manatee South (November 2010), and Balm (June 2013).

Apollo Beach area resident Warren Wood, who faithfully attends the County’s meetings on topics affecting his neighborhood and surrounding area communities, was pleased to see the Planning Commission’s efforts in reaching the community, but not without noticing a deficiency.

“There are a lot of plans, but not enough action,” Wood said. “I am glad to see government officials coming out and representing the plan, but I am also disappointed as I think we are at the point that something should be finalized.”

With input from a volunteer working committee, staff will continue revising the adopted SSASP over the next few months. The volunteer committee’s tasks will be part of the discussion at the March meeting.

Proposed changes to the adopted SSASP based on the update process including input from the stakeholders, Imagine 2040, and recommendations from the Hillsborough County Economic Development Department and the Transportation for Economic Development Leadership Policy Group is scheduled to be presented for public review in a series of three public meetings in the late summer/fall of 2014.

The next meeting is planned for Monday, September 8 at the Bloomingdale Regional Library.

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