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Gibsonton Trailer park owner seeks additional commercial zoning

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Gibsonton – Trailing a long list of residential code violations, a lot rental trailer park here currently is under consideration for added commercial activity.
Desmond Surujbali, owner of the Alafia Mobile Plaza at 11888 U.S. 41 south, is seeking a major modification of the land use permitted on the 13.5 acre site in order to allow general commercial use such as a retail operation on about two acres fronting the highway. The land use change application is designated MM 10-0226, according to Hillsborough County records.
Surujbali said this week he wants to install a Subway sandwich shop on the site if the land use change is approved and a structure built.
County records also disclose a lengthy list of open code violations racked up so far in 2010 as part of a history of code enforcement cases connected to the property which have been opened and closed since 2004.



This Hillsborough County Public Hearing sign stands in front of the property Surujbali wants rezoned for a commercial endeavor on US 41 in Gibsonton.
Melody Jameson photo

County code enforcement inspectors visited the site twice in February 2010, reporting at least 18 violations related to some of the 100-plus residential units within the trailer park. The problem areas involve structural defects, accumulated debris, exterior lighting and such basic requirements as drinking water. Inspectors listed potable water, heating facilities, plumbing, water heating and inoperable vehicles among the violations. They also noted that parts of roofs, windows and doors, handrails, flooring, exterior walls, stairways and electrical wiring presented problems.


Code violations noted in 2008 were categorized as unsanitary conditions, accumulated junk, trash and debris, as well as graffiti.

However, Surujbali said he does not own the trailer homes but rather rents the land on which they rest to their owners. Consequently, he added, any code violations related to the structures are not his responsibility.

Regardless of responsibility, the residential conditions may not figure in the county’s evaluation of the site’s commercial use application, said Susan Mariner, senior planner in Hillsborough’s Planning and Growth Management Department. The petition for adding a commercial use on the front l.88 acres would be considered only in connection with the subject land area and in a context of other such intense uses on surrounding properties as well as the proposed building size, she added. Code enforcement issues are not necessarily related to land use issues, Mariner noted.

The first public hearing on the commercial use application originally was scheduled for March, but has been continued to April 19, Mariner said. In order to consider the petition, additional information is required that was not included with the first submittal, she added, including surrounding land uses and the maximum building area proposed.

 Community activist and member of Concerned Citizens of Gibsonton Bob Minthorn said he expects the modification application to come up during the civic group’s March meeting.

© 2010 Melody Jameson



Melody Jameson photo
About two acres in front of the Alafia Mobile Plaza (above) could be converted to commercial retail use if owner Desmond Surijbali’s request for a land use modification is granted. Numerous code violations have been cited in the 13.5 acre trailer park on the east side of U.S. 41 in Gibsonton, but problems related to the dwellings inside the facility may not figure in evaluation of the frontage for commercial use. Surijbali has said he wants to put an eating establishment on the property.

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