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Whatever Happened About…

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…Redneck Riviera…HCC Campus…AB Rezoning

By MELODY JAMESON

…Redneck Riviera
Due to apparent self-policing, both proposed changes along 24th Street S.E. and a public meeting about them now are on hold.

Concerns about littering, public intoxication and other unacceptable behaviors on the small beach area where 24th Street ends at the north shore of the Little Manatee River had prompted a county plan aimed at imposing more order. The plan included building a small parking area and placing a second gate across the roadway, part of a county park as it approaches the river, that park encompassing preserved environmental acreage to the west as well as the Camp Bayou environmental learning center to the east.

Early this summer, area residents who use the historic little beach and waterhole — known as a local “Redneck Riviera” – objected particularly to another gate, further obstructing access and forcing users to hand carry both boats and other gear from parking lot to waterfront. A public meeting to air the dispute and pinpoint other solutions subsequently was discussed.

This week, Ross Dickerson, a county parks, recreation and conservation department manager, said the physical changes and proposed meeting are on a back burner because offensive behaviors and ensuing complaints have dwindled to nearly nothing. People “got the hint, and I’m not getting piles of complaints on Monday morning,” Dickerson noted. No further action is planned unless the Ruskin Community Development Foundation (RCDF), the non-profit organization that oversees Camp Bayou, seeks it, he said, adding the proposed changes could be instituted in the future if needed.

Sandy Council, RCDF president, echoed Dickerson’s description of the situation and said that in view of the user efforts the organization is not planning to request any changes along 24th Street.

The original gate across the roadway is opened by 8 a.m. and closed at 6 p.m. each day, Dickerson said.

…HCC Campus
With recent acquisition of another 20 acres immediately north of the Hillsborough Community College SouthShore campus, the rapidly growing educational institution has increased its usable land by about 50 percent.

Dr. Allan Witt, HCC SouthShore president, said successful purchase of the acreage means the school will be able to continue its multi-faceted educational mission and expand its physical facilities as the steadily increasing student body requires in the years ahead.

Opened in 2008 on land donated by the pioneering Dickman family just north of East Shell Point Road, the college initially was designated an educational center in the multi-location community college network and not expected to attain enrollment of 5,000 students until late in the current decade. However, HCC SouthShore quickly became a full-fledged campus and enrollment topped that figure in the 2009-2010 academic year. This year, based on new registration figures, some 6,000 students will attend classes on the campus, taking advantage of a flexible, constantly expanding curriculum designed to equip students to take their HCC credits on to a university to complete requirements for a higher degree or to become certified to work in several occupations, Witt said.

No specific use of the added acreage has been identified at this point, Witt indicated, but its availability will eliminate the hurdle of finding space for whatever is needed next.

…AB Rezoning
By a vote of 6 to 0, county commissioners have given final approval to rezoning for commercial uses land on the south side of Miller Mac Road between the residential areas of Apollo Beach and SouthShore Falls. All of the commissioners supported rezoning the small site for commercial development except Al Higginbotham who was absent for the September 13 meeting, noted Bruce Davis, a SouthShore Falls resident who led an effort to defeat the development.

The rezoning petition was pushed by Leroy Gonzalez, owner of other commercial property in the area, in order to develop two parcels adjacent to the Tampa Electric Company power facility and next door to what once was the Apollo Beach Rescue Squad headquarters. The Gonzalez petition describes the proposed development as a professional offices complex.

Residents of SouthShore Falls, in particular, objected to the potential development due to environmental and traffic congestion concerns. They continually contended that destroying wetlands existing on and near the site and adding traffic to two-lane Miller Mac Road that can be under water during heavy rains in order to increase office space was not justified in an area with many commercial buildings standing empty.

Copyright 2011 Melody Jameson

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