Jay Collins, Special Area Studies manager, unexpectedly wins Valrico/Fishhawk Chamber of Commerce Christmas raffle.

On December 12, 2023, the Valrico/Fishhawk Chamber of Commerce (VFCC) invited Jay Collins, Special Area Studies manager, and Alvaro Gabaldon, planner II, of the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission to discuss updates on the Valrico Community Plan.

The Planning Commission relies heavily on input from local residents and business owners when gathering data for their research. The presentation given at the monthly VFCC general assembly held at the River Hills Country Club gave both the opportunity to ask questions as well as actively participate in the development of the Valrico Community Plan.

A community plan is intended to be an extension and refinement of the county’s comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan is general in nature and provides guidance on issues countywide, but a community plan is more detailed in nature and intended to provide specific recommendations on issues raised by local stakeholders.

Over the past 20 years, Hillsborough County has adopted 22 community plans, with Valrico being one of the last areas of Hillsborough County yet to have a formal plan defined. A community plan is vital, as it provides a communication channel for the community, allowing residents and businesses an advocacy tool as well as informing new development of the goals local residents have implemented when new projects are proposed.

Currently, Valrico is home to about 50,000 people, 18,000 residences and 6,500 jobs. By 2045, these numbers are expected to jump to 56,000 residents, 21,500 residences and 8,600 jobs. The community plan offers a framework to follow which will align future development with what current residents and business owners have envisioned during phase one of the project. Community feedback via surveys, meetings and maps help build the plan by creating a vision statement, defining a community concept map and defining plan goals and strategies.

Phase one took place at community meetings held in July and September 2023 where attendees provided information that builds the basis for a community vision, goals and concept map. Phase two begins in the first quarter of 2024 by staff introducing these items as drafts to the community, building consensus around them and then exploring strategies to meet these defined goals and continued community engagement opportunities into the summer. Phase three will conclude the community plan process late in 2024 with a draft plan presented to the community and then adopted via a comprehensive plan amendment process.

The next round of community meetings are scheduled for March, where the community vision and associated goals are to be defined. Two of the meetings will be at Mulrennan Middle School: Saturday, March 2, 10 a.m.-12 Noon, and Monday, March 4, 5-7 p.m. There will also be a virtual meeting on Thursday, March 7, 12 Noon-1 p.m. Collins and Gabaldon welcome everyone in the Valrico area to attend and participate in these discussions.

For information on the Valrico Community Plan, visit https://planhillsborough.org/planvalrico. For information on the Valrico/Fishhawk Chamber of Commerce, visit www.valricofishhawk.org.

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Brian Bokor
Brian Bokor has lived in the Valrico area since 1997 and started writing freelance for The Osprey Observer in 2019. Brian (appraiser) and his wife, Sharon (broker), run a local real estate company (Bokors Corner Realty) as well as manage the Facebook page Bokors Corner, which highlights local-area commercial and residential development.