How residential and commercial development is balanced against preserving natural resources and green spaces, such as this spot on Springvale Ave. in Bloomingdale, is a concern that Hillsborough County is addressing in its sustainability action plan.

By Brad Stager

Protecting natural resources while promoting an active and enjoyable lifestyle for people is a sustainability balancing act that becomes a formidable task when applied to an area as large as Hillsborough County—1,266 square miles—that also includes a diverse mix of urban, rural and suburban communities within its borders.

In order to assess the interests and priorities of residents and business owners when it comes to sustainability-related matters, Hillsborough County is asking for their ideas in creating a community sustainability action plan that will help shape policies and determine allocation of resources by the county.

According to Sheila McNamara, sustainability manager for Hillsborough County, input from residents is needed to ensure the area continues to be an attractive place to live.

“It takes a community to sustain a community and Hillsborough County wants to know what’s important to our residents and business owners,” she said. “Many people love living and working in Hillsborough and have great ideas on ways to protect our resources and quality of life. When community members get involved, we can create a shared vision with realistic goals and actions.”

Hillsborough County is using a variety of methods to engage the public in examining issues related to energy and water usage, transportation needs and ways to promote a healthy quality of life for residents.

A series of open house webinars were held in November and an online survey is available to residents until Tuesday, December 1.

People can also hold guided dialogue sessions with friends, neighbors and family members to generate comments and ideas for consideration by action plan developers. For these, the county provides sustainability-related information and instructions for the sessions which can be held in-person or online.

Feedback from the community-based dialogue sessions will be accepted until Sunday, December 13. When completed, the community sustainability action plan will be presented to the Board of County Commissioners so it has access to the information and can consider it as policies are developed.

To learn more about the community sustainability action plan and related initiatives of Hillsborough County, you can visit the Sustainability & Green webpage at hillsboroughcounty.org.