With Florida Sprawl Comes Infrastructure and Public Safety Concerns

Some local officials in unincorporated Hillsborough County, outside of Tampa, Florida, are trying to take local residents up to the consequences of unmitigated sprawl.
May 5, 2017, 1pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Tampa, Florida, with the Hillsborough River in the foreground.
Rick Lewis

Steve Contorno reports on the methods and mission of Hillborough County (Florida) County Commissioner Stacy White, who is on a one-person mission against sprawl.

Contorno describes a recent helicopter ride, where White had Sheriff David Gee as a captive audience and a sympathetic ear for his anti-sprawl message:

Looking down, Gee took in the thousands of houses that have sprung up since he joined the department in 1978. For him, they mean one thing: "Calls for service," he said.

Since 1978, the population of the county has more than doubled, with another 600,000 people expected in the 25 years. Much of that past growth has settled into suburban areas with low density, and much of the future growth will follow a similar pattern.

In all those people, White sees an encroachment on the county's rural and environmental lands. He sees an influx of cars turning two-lane country roads into makeshift thoroughfares. He sees the final nail in the coffin of southeast Hillsborough's once flourishing tomato farms and citrus groves.

As a response, White, a Republican, "has made preventing unmitigated sprawl his top priority as commissioner," according to Contorno. The article includes a lot more detail about the current and past plans that have enabled the county's sprawling development patterns, and the consequences, especially with regard to public safety, of those decisions. 

Full Story:
Published on Monday, April 24, 2017 in Tampa Bay Times
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