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UTB Trail Near Mall Potentially Affected by County Land Swap

Hillsborough County is entertaining a land swap that would affect a portion of the Upper Tampa Bay Trail near Westfield Citrus Park Mall and Ballyhoo Grill and they want folks to weigh in before they make the decision.

The public meeting regarding the possible trail alignment is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 30, 6:30 p.m. Citrus Park Elementary School Cafeteria, 7700 Gunn Highway. Residents who are unable to attend the meeting, however, can simply weigh in by filling out the following form:

In the form’s field for “Meeting Name,” residents should fill out Upper Tampa Bay Trail Realignment.

The Upper Tampa Bay Trail, which has trailheads on Wilsky Boulevard near Linebaugh and off Waters Avenue is popular with Westchase runners and bicyclists. It passes through largely wooded areas of Northwest Hillsborough County.

The portion of the trail that could be realigned in a proposed county land swap with a developer runs parallel to Gunn Highway just north of the entrances to the Westfield Citrus Park Mall and Hillsborough County Sheriff’s District 3 office. It sits just south of Ballyhoo Grill.

Currently sitting on the east side of Gunn Highway across from a group of townhomes are four empty parcels through which the trail runs (See photo.) Alliance Residential has an option to purchase those four parcels and is seeking to rezone them. Currently zoned for 12 homes per acre, they want to change the zoning on the 20-acre parcel. Doing so would increase its permitted density and allow them to construct 300 apartments there. That rezoning meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 17.

Hillsborough County Project Manager Jason Chilson of the Conservation & Environmental Lands Management, stated that the developer’s decision to go forward with rezoning will hinge on the county approving a realignment of the current trail. While the trail through the parcels is currently set back from Gunn Highway, Alliance Residential has requested that the county swap the current trail land for new trail space 25 feet closer to the road to allow room to construct a greater number of apartments. “If the county is not OK with the trail moving,” Chilson said, “it makes no sense to go to the other [rezoning] meeting,” he said.

The apartment complex, tentatively called Citrus Park Village Apartments, would have 300 units with a single road crossing the trail to give apartment residents access to Gunn Highway. Chilson pointed out that the four parcels through which the trail runs are currently privately owned, each with the right to construct an access road across the trail.

In order for the trail to be relocated closer to Gunn Highway, Hillsborough County would have to first agree to the land swap.

Chilson stated that residents who are unable to attend the Aug. 30 meeting on realignment could still fill out the comment form and submit it up to two weeks after the meeting. 

For more information about the proposed apartment complex rezoning, readers can click on the button to enter the PGM store here:

Using the word “public” as the username and password, you can access or click on the document repository and do a search by filling in the project’s rezoning number, 18-0800, in the field labeled “Tracking #”

You can access a copy of the developer’s rezoning request and project summary by clicking here.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher


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