Hillsborough County residents rally against ‘urban sprawl’

Hillsborough County

SUN CITY CENTER, Fla. (WFLA) — Residents in south Hillsborough County are passionate about stopping urban sprawl.

A protest is scheduled outside the Sun City Center Save-a-Lot Friday morning to voice concerns that local infrastructure can’t keep up with rampant growth.

Demonstrators, like organizer Melodie Walters, hope to grab the attention of the county commissioners.

“It’s beyond any boom I’ve ever seen,” Walters said, citing the growth she’s seen in the six years she’s called Sun City Center home.

The trouble with that growth, however, hit a little too close to home when her husband collapsed at home a few weeks ago.

“As he started walking towards the bathroom, he started staggering, saying he felt dizzy,” she explained. “When he hit the floor, he was dead.”

As Walters started CPR she called 911, only to learn there was no nearby ambulance available. Her husband was revived and pulled through, but the experience was enough for Walters to start pushing back against urban sprawl in one of the fastest-growing parts of Hillsborough County.

Walters is teaming up with community organizer Noelle Licor to demand the county put a stop to high-density home developments cropping up in rural areas.

“There’s not one part of our infrastructure that can support what we have now,” Licor said.

Roughly 10,000 new homes are slated for Wimauma alone, Licor explained, with thousands more possible if multiple rezoning applications are approved.

“The new high school they built is going to be over-capacity the day it opens,” Licor said.

Earlier this month, county commissioners tentatively set a nine-month moratorium on rezoning applications for parts of south county. But there are fears that won’t stop the sprawl, only delay it.

There is another public hearing for that re-zoning moratorium scheduled on Nov. 6th. That will be followed by a final vote by the commissioners.

Protesters in Sun City Center plan to organize as early as 7 a.m. Friday, hoping to be as visible as possible to commuters along busy Sun City Center Blvd.

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