Higginbotham Fields Big-Box Development Question

Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham answered a question about development near the Bloomingdale Regional Library at the April 25 meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon.


At the Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon's meeting April 25, Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham fielded questions about a wide range of community issues, including what will become of a 43.5-acre pasture on Bloomingdale Avenue next to the Bloomingdale Regional Library.

  • See Bloomingdale Residents Continue To Fight Big-Box Development

"Back in 2003 that property was zoned . . . for a big-box store," Higginbotham said. "Somehow a rumor started that a Walmart was going in there. I’ve seen noting in writing, I’ve had no briefings from staff, that a Walmart’s going there. But that doesn’t mean a Walmart is not."

Adding that he "can only deal with the facts that I have," Higginbotham said that before any building takes place there would be "concurrency and road improvements to complement the site."

But that's a long way off, Higginbotham said, speaking as the invited guest to the Friday morning meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Brandon, held weekly at Ben's Family Restaurant in Brandon.

"There’s not even a building plan that's been permitted, it's still discussion and, in great part, still rumor," he said. "But until I can get facts to look at I can’t make that decision."

Higginbotham sought to put the issue in perspective

"Ten years ago that site was zoned," he said. "Now we’re faced with what we call in-ill projects."

"When I first came to office everybody was saying, ‘Don’t expand out, don’t go out [further],’ " he added. "Now we’ve got infill projects popping up and they’re raising concerns, ‘Do we have the infrastructure, is this what we want?' "

Those are the types of discussions, Higginbotham said, that "we're going to continue to have."

JSB April 27, 2013 at 12:40 PM
Commissioner Higginbotham, we are not convinced that you are having any discussions about this. You have made up your mind to serve your own interests and not that of the communities. We would prefer you stop shuffling our calls and emails off to the county attorney and actually listen to the complaints about this horrid idea. And as for it being a Walmart - even the Walmart employees are saying it's a Walmart, a copy of the plans have "Walmart" written on them. Stop the lying now Commissioner.
Stephen Purifoy April 27, 2013 at 01:35 PM
I think it just takes courage for our Commissioners to oppose these developers and their attorneys. When you've got local residents and taxpayers who will be adversely impacted and your reply is that these things were set in place before you took office, that's not courage.
Clif Curry April 27, 2013 at 03:09 PM
Al Higgenbotham cares about our community but he must act in conformance with the current law. Boycott the existing Walmart if you don't want another Walmart on the site. If the people of the community really care about this issue DO something about it!
JSB April 27, 2013 at 08:03 PM
Clif - you are apparently uninformed about the efforts the community is trying. And we are trying to get the BOCC to listen. You sound just like a county Commissioner yourself - hiding behind laws you rigged yourself and suggesting that your hands are tied. Please don't insult our community by suggesting that we are not doing anything.
George April 28, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Cliff, boycott existing Walmarts as a protest??? Are you kidding? And should people boycott existing Walmarts before or after they build the new one (which will be happening very soon)? Local boycotts won't make a bit of difference and to suggest it as a meaningful solution is naïve. And BTW, Al Higginbotham was the one that motioned to approve the last change which gave the developer more entitlements, adding a 260 apartment complex to the list of things that could be built, so he was a willing player in the history of this property. He can play dumb, but local residents can thank him for all of the problems that are about to take place when the new big box and apartments are built.
George April 28, 2013 at 04:03 PM
JSB, you are 100% right about how are officials approve things with minimal public notice and/or input and then hide behind the law and tell angry citizens there's nothing they can do. In addition, they have a habit of using some laws that benefit certain special interests and then avoiding the enforcement of other laws. Case in point, look at how they have never really followed concurrency (ensuring that the impact of growth on the community (roads/schools/water/sewer/safety) were paid for by the developer. If they had followed concurrency we wouldn't have the problems we have today, what with roads and schools at capacity and ever-increasing water restrictions. They could force developers to pay for all of the impacts but they don't. So when Al Higginbotham and his colleagues on the county commission let development occur and watch our quality of life erode year after year, we must hold them responsible and not let them play dumb and hide behind the law. Hillsborough County has lobbyists in Tallahassee. Does our commission try to get laws changed to make growth pay for itself? Nope. And why? Because the special interests that keep building big boxes like things just the way they are. They like rules that pretty much let them build whatever and wherever they want without regard for the problems and overcrowding that's created.
P.Bassett May 08, 2013 at 05:20 PM
Al Higgenbotham where is your loyalty to your constituency? You can deny your part in and knowledge of of this proposal, but the facts are known. Please be aware that the very people you are evading in the district you represent are the same people to whom you will look for re-election support.


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