CAN-DO Settles/Big Box Update
Community Urged to Continue Support and Involvement
On Wednesday, June 11 CAN-DO’s Steering Committee met with BHA president George May, BHA Secretary Daniel Berkowitz and other select Bloomingdale area HOA representatives to provide an update on the Big Box development status.
Because of his role in the lawsuit, CAN-DO President Fred Brown was unable to share detailed information from the initial mediation meeting, which took place the first week in June; however, those assembled engaged in a spirited discussion of current conditions. CAN-DO’s attorney was able to answer many questions on the status of the lawsuit and provided solid insight and advice. For the initial round of mediation Brown and CAN-DO’s attorney went before a judge as did three attorneys from Redcast and two representing Hillsborough County. Though the CAN-DO Attorney was outnumbered five-to-one, she held her own. In the end, no concessions were made and no decisions were handed down.
As a collective, the group that assembled on June 11 assisted CAN-DO by offering feedback and helping to develop a strategy as the organization’s representatives prepared to head into the second (and final) mediation meeting on June 16. Throughout the discussion, May made it clear to Brown and CAN-DO that the BHA (and the Bloomingdale Gazette) will continue to serve as a resource for CAN-DO since the pending development is an issue of community concern.
During the June 16 mediation meeting Brown and the CAN-DO Board requested before the judge that Redcast return to the original plan presented by the developers (a plan similar in style to Winthrop). According to a follow-up press release, CAN-DO concluded mediation with Red Cast LLC and Hillsborough County and signed a mediation agreement. Because mediation is a confidential legal process, the organization is bound by Florida law not to discuss the proceedings or the results. In general, representatives from the organization shared that some concessions were achieved, and some were not; however, no specifics were forthcoming.
CAN-DO’s Official Statement:
In joining Plaintiff Fred Brown, Bloomingdale CAN-DO and its officers have resolved all claims against Hillsborough County and developer Red Cast Bloomingdale LLC. After several rounds of meetings with representatives from Red Cast Bloomingdale LLC and Hillsborough County, Mr. Brown and the officers of Can-Do acknowledge that the project has the potential to enhance the neighborhood and surrounding community. The developer has shown a willingness to cooperate and listen to the community’s concerns.
According to Brown, CAN-DO is planning to meet and finalize the agreement with the developer and then hold a community meeting. The BHA applauds the efforts of CAN-DO and the courageous officers who brought the fight to the county and developers at their personal expense of time and money.
CAN-DO encourages the community as a whole (especially the HOAs) to keep tabs on the actual development as it comes in to being. Although CAN-DO’s efforts on this specific matter have come to a close, it does not preclude the organization from supporting and advising on future efforts that may draw forth from the surrounding community.
Residents are especially encouraged to learn about the candidates and vote in the upcoming elections. The big box situation illustrates the importance of electing county politicians who care more about residents than developers.
What can the community do to continue supporting CAN-DO’s efforts now that the legal action is over?
- Pay all outstanding legal bills. CAN-DO needs to re-energize fundraising efforts. Their funds from the first phase (roughly $8,000) are near depletion.
- Ensure the county uses the concurrency money for direct improvements on Bloomingdale.
- Vote in the upcoming BOCC elections—vote for commissioners who are more likely to represent residents in the Bloomingdale and Valrico area.
- Monitor the retail stores that opt to move into the development on Bloomingdale. Let them know our neighborhood is important to us and we expect them to be good neighbors
- Property (bordered on the north by Guiles Rd., on the East by the already existing shops along Lithia Pinecrest, on the South by Bloomingdale Ave., and on the West by the public library and Bloomingdale High School) was privately owned.
- The property was sold to Thomas Enterprises. According to the sellers, Mr. Thomas of Thomas Industries worked diligently with the county to bring the original vision to fruition; however, he went into foreclosure on the property waiting for the county to approve his plans. The property was then acquired by M&I Bank of Sarasota.
- M&I requested the zoning be changed to a multi-use design (MUD) and subsequently sold the property to Redstone Investment. Also known as mixed use, this type of zoning includes residential, commercial, and business all in one area, as well as use and access of public transportation. Public notice to amend the original plan was provided solely through newspaper notices in the Tampa Tribune. According to the Community Affairs Office of Neighborhood Relations there was no legal requirement for the posting of site-specific signs (public meeting signs), as the change from TND to MUD was not considered rezoning. The process required only two public hearings with the Board of County Commissioners and a vote on consistency with the Hillsborough County Comprehensive Plan by the Planning Commission, which was received.
- Redstone Investment submitted a site plan to the county that outlined a big box store, five outparcels (businesses unknown), and a residential property (apartments/townhomes, since single family dwellings were ruled out).
- CAN-DO organizes (April)
- County Commissioner Al Higginbotham holds public meeting to address community concerns (June 10)
- CAN-DO collects funds necessary to hire specialized attorney to work alongside the group to file a lawsuit defended on the basis of “illegal” rezoning amendment of the parcel in December 2011. (June) Records show the developer attempted a rezoning in 2010 from Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) Greenfield to TND Infill. After opposition, they pulled the request and in 2011 initiated a Land Development Code Text Amendment to redefine requirements under TND Greenfield. CAN-DO researchers claim that the text amendment was a fraudulent rezoning.
- The BHA officially states its position against the proposed development (September), and voted to provide CAN-DO with financial support (November)
- Bloomingdale CAN-DO announced on Nov. 20 that a lawsuit was filed concerning the text amendment, LDC 11-0607, that affected the Bloomingdale property. The defendants, Hillsborough County and Red Cast Bloomingdale LLC were served on Thursday, Nov. 21. The case number was 2013-CA-014098 and was assigned to Division K and Judge Levens.
- BOCC voted to approve the Prop Share Agreement (December); however, they agreed to hold off until February (2014) on the allocation of the funds to give staff time to meet with the community and obtain public input.
- The Hillsborough County Public Works Department held a public meeting in the Bloomingdale High School auditorium on to discuss Bloomingdale area transportation improvements. (February)
- Through the use of legal mediation, CAN-DO and the developers came to agreement on a plan that has the potential to enhance the neighborhood and surrounding community (June).
- Moving forward, the local community is encouraged to keep tabs on the development as it comes to fruition.
Photo Credit: Daniel Berkowitz
Fred Brown (CAN-DO) and George May (President, BHA) discuss how the Bloomingdale Homeowners Association can continue to support CAN-DO and the community as development plans move forward.