By Ron Wolfe

There are approximately 440,000 parcels of land in Hillsborough County. Each parcel has its own folio number and a land use designation to help us make the best use of land for our neighborhoods, schools, businesses, industries, parks and natural environments.

Zoning is a land use control tool that protects property owners from undesirable and incompatible land uses in neighborhoods. Zoning and land development regulations were adopted by the Board of County Commissioners as a local law or ordinance which regulates property owners.

There is an official Zoning Atlas or Zoning Map that designates a zoning classification for each piece of property in the county. The Land Development Code defines the standards for development of property and describes permitted uses for each parcel shown on the Zoning Atlas.

Occasionally, a property owner wants to change the zoning classification and is confronted with the Hillsborough County rezoning process. Understanding the Hillsborough County Land Development Code and how you can participate in rezoning issues is very technical and confusing to many.

In the State of Florida, great emphasis is placed upon individual property rights. When you purchase a piece of property, you acquire both zoning rights and the right to file an application for rezoning. Rezoning is a quasi-judicial process, meaning that it resembles a judicial court system. If you fail to follow the established procedures, you can be excluded from the process altogether.

There are essentially two steps to the rezoning process.

Step One: The Public Hearing Before The Land Use Hearing Officer

The public hearing for rezoning held before a Land Use Hearing Officer is the first part in the zoning process.

Step Two: The Public Meeting Before The County Commissioners

The second part of the land rezoning process is a public meeting held before the Board of County Commissioners.

SouthShore citizens have a major role to play in monitoring the many applications for rezoning that will be coming our way. Understanding this role and fully participating in the process will be essential if we are to maintain the quality of living that we now enjoy. It may be prudent for each of the SouthShore recognized communities to put in place a watchdog group of citizens to stay on top of this issue.

Next week, I plan to share with you the step-by-step procedures and the technical aspects of rezoning and the many pitfalls along the way.

Do you own or manage a SouthShore business? Do you know that the five steps to business success are Planning, Organizing, Staffing, Directing and Controlling? Find out more by visiting my web site at www.thearjaygroup.com.

Send letters to: THE VOICE of SouthShore, P.O. Box 476, Ruskin, FL 33575-0476. E-mail: Ron@thearjaygroup.com. Phone: 813-273-8976.

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