Wimauma began as many of Hillsborough County’s other unincorporated census-designated places did: an out-of-state settler who could visualize a good life, created on the area’s coastal prairie that is well-suited for agriculture.
Hillsborough County’s official history of Wimauma published in 1998 credits Pleasant Franklin Stanaland of Thomasville, Georgia as the location’s first transplant from beyond the Sunshine State, arriving in 1875. He found success growing citrus and his supply chain logistics greatly improved when railroad builder Captain C.H. Davis laid his Durant-to-Sarasota tracks through the area. Besides providing a train, Davis also bestowed a name on the whistle stop by using the first letters of his three daughters’ names: Wilma, Maude and Mary.
As the Tampa Bay region’s open space stock diminishes, what were once places where wilderness, plowed fields and grazing lands prevailed are being developed into modern home communities, especially so in southern parts of Hillsborough County such as Wimauma. Besides the loss of undeveloped land, the skyline is also changing, as the inventory of manufactured structures clad in corrugated aluminum alloy is now being replaced with more durable commercial buildings and concrete block smart homes programmed to provide ultimate residential comfort to owners as well as security from intruders.
As for commercial development, county officials foresee the need to establish a strictly codified central business district to conduct commerce for the emerging population with businesses such as yoga studios, cafes and stores of all varieties. This contrasts with current zoning and a relaxed environment that supports industries ranging from farming to dirt mining. Achieving a successful transition through the changes that growth brings for the community is the focus of a plan developed with Wimauma residents and adopted by Hillsborough County last fall.
County officials said implementation of the Wimauma Community Plan and the corresponding Land Development Code is the next step in creating a civic foundation conducive to a safe and prosperous future for local residents, and it builds on existing amenities like Bethune Park and nearby nature preserves. The documents will also help guide the prioritization of infrastructure improvements.
Speaking to the Wimauma Community Development Corporation’s annual meeting in May, Hillsborough County executive planner Matt Lewis said success will mean accommodating a variety of requirements.
“Just adopting the plan doesn’t make it happen,” he said, adding, “There’s the private investment, there’s the infrastructure, there’s the public realm.”
County officials said they will meet with Wimauma residents in the fall to discuss development options.