Tensions persist as Polk County’s last dairy farm moves closer to being sold, developed

Polk County

POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The county’s last surviving dairy farm will soon be milking no more and neighbors are concerned about plans for the land’s future.

“It’s the high density. You’re now taking away the pleasantries of how it looks and how we live. Then you’re going to have the traffic,” said Andrea Salcedo, a resident of the Kathleen neighborhood near H.C. Dairy Farm.

She is worried plans for a 170-home development on Walker Road will tarnish the rural nature of the community.

The owner of H.C. Dairy Farm, Mike Carey, wants to sell his dairy farm and the land.

He told 8 On Your Side last October that an EF-2 tornado may have been the final straw.

“I don’t think we’ll stay in the dairy business at all. Dairy business hasn’t been good,” he said at the time.

Now, he’s going through the approval process to sell his land to developers.

He and his attorney, Bart Allen, declined to comment for this story.

In a county commission meeting this week, however, Carey appeared frustrated.

“I don’t want any more delays,” he said.

Residents worry about adding to an already flood-prone area.

“It’s impermeable, all the pavement and stuff, and the roofs and the sidewalks. It’s all impermeable,” Salcedo said.

Plans include three large retention ponds on the property.

“We can keep it from draining onto them. We’re designing for a hundred-year storm which happens once every hundred years,” said Jeremy Couch, a licensed professional engineer with Tampa Civil Design, to commissioners.

County commissioners blocked an appeal this week so the project moves forward to studies and other funding items.

Salcedo said she will be in touch with attorneys to try to stop the project.

“We’re completely disenfranchised. They are not listening to us,” she said.

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