TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa City officials are holding a meeting Wednesday night to discuss the exploding growth along the city’s coastline.
According to the city, the first meeting deals with the area south Gandy Boulevard. City staff will meet with community members to discuss long-term planning in coastal neighborhoods and their vision for the future.
Working closely with Benesch Consultants, the City of Tampa is evaluating how to best address the vulnerabilities of its coastal neighborhoods and discussing strategies to guiding future development in these areas in a safe and sustainable manner.
“Almost 80% of south of Gandy is in the Coastal High Hazard Area (CHHA),” said City Planning Director Stephen Benson. “We are taking proactive steps to protect its current and future residents, while also outlining a smart and sustainable path for its growth and development.”
Neighbors tell 8 On Your Side they are worried that the recent explosion of growth is putting them at risk.
“We are very much afraid we’re going to end up riding out a hurricane in our cars because we can’t get out,” said Carroll Ann Bennett, who lives south of Gandy. Bennett is the Vice President of THAN otherwise known as the Tampa Homeowners Association of Neighborhoods.
Bennett said a big concern among residents is the recent growth.
“We only have one route to evacuate. The rest of the city can evacuate 360 degrees. People in South Tampa can only evacuate in one direction, we can go north and that’s it. that’s our only way to get out,” said Bennett. “The population as it stands today cannot safely evacuate. So they feel like more growth in the evacuation zones of A, and B in South Tampa is risky. It’s reckless and it endangers people.”
Wednesday night, Tampa leaders will address the concerns of residents and discuss a study that is in the works.
“We do feel like the purpose of this project is to put these planning mechanisms in place so that when growth occurs, it’s done responsibly and sustainably, putting the right development in the right location,” said Benson.
“Hopefully the results of that study, the information from that study, will help us develop good evacuation plans, good growth plans, for safe growth in our city. That’s what the people want,” said Bennett.
The meeting will start at 6 p.m. at the Gandy Civic Center, located at 4207 W. Oklahoma Avenue.
A second public meeting, focusing on the Palmetto Beach area, will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 30, at Iglesia Restauracion Cristiana, located at 2237 Linsey Street.