Owners of the western portion of the Energy Industrial Park (EIP) in Dover submitted Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA) 24-06 with the goal to change zoning on a portion of land to allow residential development on the site. The energy park is a 3,000-acre parcel previously used as a phosphate mine south of State Road 60 and north of Durant Road between Dover Road and Turkey Creek Road.

This residential request is not to be confused with CPA 23-15 which was submitted by owners of the eastern portion earlier in the year. Their request seeks to allow some commercial and office use on their portion of the EIP before any renewable energy sources have been completed as stipulated in the original EIP rezoning approval, RZ10-0692.

CPA 24-06, the residential request, is driven by projected population growth in Eastern Hillsborough Count and Plant City over the next 25 years, during which Valrico is expected to increase by 14 percent to over 63,000 and Plant City is estimated to add over 36,000 new residents. This vacant site happens to be the largest single tract of land available in all of Hillsborough County with access to public water and sewers, which makes it a strategically placed piece of property linking unincorporated Hillsborough with Plant City along State Road 60.

Applicants for 24-06 believe the changes requested would provide land needed to support this future growth. If the text amendment is approved, the 476 acres of land in the portion southwest of the railroad tracks could accommodate up to 1,903 dwelling units under the requested 4-per-acre future land use designation.

Developers seek to integrate solar energy into the project, as well as an agricultural component with a sustainable fruit-and-vegetable farm for the residents and the community. The goal of this ‘agrihood’ is to offer fresh, local produce for purchase or to engage a farm-to-table concept, with the potential of a variety of educational programming.

Understandably, there was skepticism from locals concerned with the request to build residential housing on the property based on the fact that 9.5 acres of land north of the railroad tracks was designated as a Superfund site by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1989 due to waste disposal activities conducted by Hillsborough County. The county and EPA have been treating and mitigating the environmental impacts with groundwater monitored since the 1980s. Recent data indicates stable conditions with minor impacts from previous activities and no plans to use the groundwater for drinking purposes.

They also questioned potential traffic problems created by future development while wondering why the energy park concept never materialized in the first place. With no plans to add vehicular railroad crossings to the north, access to and from the planned community would need to come via Dover Road, Durant Road or Turkey Creek Road, all three of which are two-lane corridors.

The first of two community meetings was held at Mulrennan Middle School on April 23 and was set up in an open-house format. Experts from Land Use Counsel, Project Planning & Engineering, Transportation and Environment were available at each station, leading the discussions and answering questions. The second meeting will be held on Tuesday, May 21, between 6-7:30 p.m. at the same location.

Over 50 residents were on hand with topics discussed centered on land use and the zoning process, the types of uses and density proposed to be developed on the property, the timing of the proposed development of the property and the proposed access to and planned transportation improvements associated with the property.

Comprehensive plan amendments do not have conditions of approval, as do rezonings, meaning the approval of the CPA does not guarantee any potential future uses will be approved during the subsequent rezoning proceedings. The applicant has filed no rezoning request at this time.

Information on all Hillsborough County comprehensive plans amendments can be found at https://planhillsborough.org/plan-amendments.

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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.