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Patch Talk: A Conversation With Seffner Community Activist Terry Flott

Community activist and advocate Terry Flott often can be seen at Hillsborough County offices, where she keeps an eye on issues concerning her hometown of Seffner.

Terry Flott doesn’t like to miss a meeting of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners. The Seffner Community Alliance she helped establish stemmed from a zoning issue that almost got overlooked by her neighbors, and she doesn’t want to see that happen again.

Most recently we caught up with her at the March 2 meeting of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, where she gave her views on extending the ban on roadside solicitations and distribution to include state roads as well as county roads.

During an early evening break in the meeting, Flott talked to Brandon Patch about the Seffner Community Alliance.

Brandon Patch: Why did you work to establish the Seffner Community Alliance?

  • Flott: Because issues that affect our neighborhood were going unnoticed by individuals living in our community. We need to act as a unified group rather than as individuals to become more effective. We become more effective as a group rather than as “onesies" and “twosies."

Brandon Patch: What issue got you started?

  • Flott: A rezoning. There was a change from agriculture to a residential subdivision at the northeast corner of Kingsway Road and U.S. Highway 92. Originally, it started as like 600 homes and they wanted to put apartments there as well and we got it down to 200 homes and no apartments.

Brandon Patch: Why were you so passionate about fighting this rezoning?

  • Flott: It wouldn’t be consistent with the area. We’re right on the boundary line of the Urban Service Area versus the Rural Service Area. It didn’t allow for a better transition from the high-density land use category into the lower density in the rural area. 

Brandon Patch: How large is your association and when does it meet?

  • Flott: We’re on hiatus right now, in terms of meetings, but we get together via email to discuss issues. We have probably around 600 members, and some of those members are also homeowners associations. If you counted it by roof tops, our membership would be exponentially higher.

 Brandon Patch: You cover just Seffner?

  • Flott: We serve a larger area than just Seffner. We service Mango and parts of Dover as well, because we all kind of run into each other.

 Brandon Patch: Do you consider yourself a part of Brandon?

  • Flott: That’s probably a sore subject. People are sensitive about that. Some people call us the Greater Brandon area but we want our own identity, good or bad.

Brandon Patch: At Brandon Patch, we always report, “the Greater Brandon area of Seffner.” Is that okay?

  • Flott: That’s fine, but you have to say Seffner.

Brandon Patch: Why is that so important to you?

  • Flott: We don’t want to lose our identity as a community and we’re different from Brandon. We’re more rural in nature than Brandon, although you can’t really call us, “rural.” We’re a community in transition and sometimes we just get lost in the Greater Brandon community.

Brandon Patch: What makes Seffner special?

  • Flott: We’re more of a small town. There’s a longevity here. People have been here a long time. It’s a community that people want to stay in. That has changed somewhat, as these newer subdivisions come in, but overall our residents have stayed here for generations. It’s home. And it’s not just home for the time being. It’s home. 

Brandon Patch: What are some Seffner highlights?

  • Flott: We have Armwood and Strawberry Crest high schools. They call Strawberry Crest a Dover school, or a Plant City school, and we consider it a part of Seffner. A lot of Seffner kids are going to Strawberry Crest now.

Brandon Patch: What else?

  • Flott: We have a great new library, the Seffner-Mango Library on Kingsway Road, that we can proudly say is the only library in Hillsborough County that has a dedicated science lab, including microscopes, books and models, and anybody can check out those things, not just the kids.

Brandon Patch: The Seffner Community Alliance counts the library as one of its crowning achievements, doesn’t it? 

  • Flott: Getting the library, saving the property on which the library sits, we played a key role in that. The land was going to be a maintenance site for the county roads department. The remaining portion of the site where the library sits is going be a passive park.

Brandon Patch: So, in a nutshell . . .

  • Flott: We help a lot with rezonings and maintaining a line of communication with our County Commissioners, county staff and other elected officials. We keep an eye on things so we don’t have something sneak up on us that would adversely affect Seffner.

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