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Balm community planners expand its borders

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image Map courtesy of The Planning Commission

When community planners assemble here next week, they will be dealing with a bigger Balm.


BALM – When community planners assemble here next week, they will be dealing with a bigger Balm.

Responding to sentiment expressed in recent meetings by members of the citizen advisory group, the plan study boundaries have been expanded to now encompass some 23,500 acres east of U.S. 301, with the bulk of that acreage laying generally between State Road 674 to the south and County Road 672 to the north.

The new boundaries more than double the Balm Plan study area, according to Pedro Parra, professional planner with The Planning Commission and part of the team which has been assisting the advisory group in shaping their community plan since last February. The extended borders take the planning area east to the edge of land expected to yield raw phosphate for Mosaic. Much of the acreage now within the plan study area is very rural, Parra indicated.

Using less visible section lines as well as highly visible landmarks such as roads, the outline of the community from the planning standpoint is exceedingly uneven on both the north and south. The eastern and western boundaries, however, are on arrow straight alignments. Outlined on a map, the community that now is subject of the Balm Community Plan is at its largest to the east and shrinks to about a third of that size at its most western point.

The straight eastern boundary is on an alignment two miles east of Sweat Loop, Parra said. The much shorter western boundary would be the northern end of Wimauma’s Westlake Drive if Westlake ran that far north, he added.

The ragged southern border of the plan study area abuts S.R. 674 at the eastern end and follows roughly the northern boundary of the Wimauma Village Plan as the new boundary jogs and turns in a northwesterly direction. The study area’s northern border generally is about two miles north of C.R. 672, overlapping at points the long-established Riverview Plan’s southern boundary, Parra noted.

 With a new study plan area to work with, members of the advisory group also will get started on lists of their goals and objectives for the Balm of the future when they meet Tuesday, October 25, said Lisa Silva, planner leading the Balm team.

As part of this process, which may require several sessions for the dozens of citizen planners to work through, they also will frame and refine their vision statement, Silva added. It is the vision statement that sets the tone for their plan and summarizes what the planning group agrees the future community should be. The meeting is set for 6 p.m. in the Balm Civic Center.

As the Balm Plan gradually takes on solid shape, residents like Marcella O’Steen, former president of the Balm Civic Association, said this week she wants to ensure the future outlook’s goals and objectives are consistent with the county’s Comprehensive Plan and Land Use provisions. Quoting from Hillsborough’s legally binding Comp Plan she noted that as future growth presses in on rural areas such as Balm, it will be important that such sections of the county are protected to provide for long term land intensive agricultural uses and large lot low density rural residential uses called for in the countywide concept.

Balm is the last of the eight primary communities in South County to engage in planning for the future. Many of the already approved community plans soon will be reviewed for updating, by law. The first update, Parra noted, is to be the SouthShore Areawide Community Plan undertaken in July, August and September of 2012.

Copyright 2011 Melody Jameson

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