Hagan: ‘No Secret Meetings with Bass Pro’

Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan addressed allegations that backdoor meetings have been held in an attempt to lure the national sporting goods retailer to Brandon.

After hearing a stream of complaints from residents about Hillsborough County’s proposed $8.25 million incentive package for the Brandon area development that might ultimately house a new Bass Pro Shops location, Commission Chairman Ken Hagan had to set the record straight.

“There have been no secret meetings with Bass Pro,” Hagan said during the Hillsborough Commission’s Feb. 6 meeting.

Residents and small business owners opposed to the incentive package came out in droves to Wednesday’s meeting, some driving from as far away as Lutz. They spoke during an open comment period in the morning and again during a public hearing on a proposed amendment to the developer’s land use agreement that would move up construction of several road projects.

  • See 'Say No To Bass Pro' Activists Speak Up at Commissioners' Meeting

Many of those speakers accused the county – and Hagan specifically – of playing host to secret meetings to lure Bass Pro to the area.

“If Bass Pro wants to build a store in Hillsborough let them – without a single penney of sales tax money,” said resident Herbert Belcher during the commission’s morning session.

Belcher went on to implore the county to release information related to the ongoing negotiations with the project’s developers, I-75/Palm River Road and Florida Crossroad LTD. There have been “two years of secret negotiations,” he said.

“Mr. Hagan, I’m really disappointed to hear of your secret negotiations with our money in this project,” added Grace McComas.

Hagan addressed the allegations during a public hearing later in the afternoon related to a proposed amendment to the development agreement for the project. That agreement spells out the developer’s responsibilities in regard to road improvements. The amendment is meant to move up the time frame in which the road projects will be undertaken.

Under the agreement, the following constructions projects will be undertaken by the developer:

  • Creating an extension of Palm River Road from its current terminus to Falkenburg Road
  • Widening Falkenburg to six lanes from the Selmon Expressway to Palm River Road
  • Adding signalization of the intersection of Falkenburg Road and Palm River Road/Delaney Lake Drive

The actual development includes 373,350 square feet of retail space, 360 dwelling units, a 125-room hotel, 125,000 square feet of office space and 125,000 square feet of medical office space. Bass Pro is one of the identified possible anchors.

A second public hearing on the proposal to amend the development agreement is set for Feb. 12 during the commission’s land use meeting, which starts at 9 a.m. at County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd.

The issue of the incentive package that would reimburse the developer for the road improvements is set to go before the board during its Feb. 20 meeting.

George February 09, 2013 at 02:29 AM
Commissioner Hagan addressed none of the charges but apparently he's got the press on his side because look at the headline the Brandon Patch willingly publishes with no details to back it up. He told the public at the Dec 5th public meeting that he's been meeting privately with Bass Pro for the last 2 years. Then when citizens ask for the records of those meetings they are told by the county attorney that he has no records that he's willing to share with the public. What??? He's not willing to share any details of those private meetings? Before the Brandon Patch used that as a headline they should have pressed Hagan to provide more details. There should be no free passes, Sherri.
Elizabeth Belcher February 21, 2013 at 05:00 PM
In the Dec 5 meeting, Hagan, himself, stated that he had referred to his notes regarding Bass Pro Shop. I made a public records request for those records and e-mails in mid-December. I still have not recieved anything responsive from Hagan's office. And to the fact that I requested, in writing, for just the same amount of time for those that are opposed as the people who are for this. After all, it is our tax money that they are asking for. Shouldn't we, the taxpayers, who are paying get a chance to at least express our opionion? No one had the common courtsey to even acknowledge my request. Then to insult the taxpayers even more, Hagan made an arbitrary decision to cut each person's public comment to 2 minutes not the ususal 3 minutes. Hagan was not done. Hagan then stood before the board, took all the time that he needed, and made a sales pitch for the taxpayer give-away. Hagan should be reminded that this country was founded on the idea that there is no taxatiion without representation and he (Hagan) is denying that to those of us who are paying the bills.


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