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Paula Harvey


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Paula Harvey
Series Title:
West Central Florida land use oral history project
Physical Description:
1 sound file ( 90 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Harvey, Paula, 1949-
Mansfield, Bill
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Regional planning -- Citizen participation -- Florida -- Hillsborough County   ( lcsh )
Land use -- Florida -- Hillsborough County   ( lcsh )
Oral history   ( local )
Online audio   ( local )
Oral history.   ( local )
Online audio.   ( local )
interview   ( marcgt )


Paula Harvey, the director of the Planning and Zoning Division of the Planning and Growth Management Department of Hillsborough County, talks about land development in the county. She discusses community planning programs, the Bert J. Harris Act, issues of community identity, the zoning approval process, Wimauma, Keystone, Lutz, Sun City, and developers' strategies. She focuses on her experiences with zoning and fielding the concerns of the community.
Interview conducted August 25, 2006, in Tampa, Fla.
System Details:
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System Details:
Streaming audio.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by William Mansfield.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 028708433
oclc - 206925382
usfldc doi - W34-00014
usfldc handle - w34.14
System ID:

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C O P Y R I G H T N O T I C E T h i s O r a l H i s t o r y i s c o p y r i g h t e d b y t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a L i b r a r i e s O r a l H i s t o r y P r o g r a m o n b e h a l f o f t h e B o a r d o f T r u s t e e s o f t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a C o p y r i g h t 2 0 0 7 U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a A l l r i g h t s r e s e r v e d T h i s o r a l h i s t o r y m a y b e u s e d f o r r e s e a r c h i n s t r u c t i o n a n d p r i v a t e s t u d y u n d e r t h e p r o v i s i o n s o f t h e F a i r U s e F a i r U s e i s a p r o v i s i o n o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s C o p y r i g h t L a w ( U n i t e d S t a t e s C o d e T i t l e 1 7 s e c t i o n 1 0 7 ) w h i c h a l l o w s l i m i t e d u s e o f c o p y r i g h t e d m a t e r i a l s u n d e r c e r t a i n c o n d i t i o n s F a i r U s e l i m i t s t h e a m o u n t o f m a t e r i a l t h a t m a y b e u s e d F o r a l l o t h e r p e r m i s s i o n s a n d r e q u e s t s c o n t a c t t h e U N I V E R S I T Y O F S O U T H F L O R I D A L I B R A R I E S O R A L H I S T O R Y P R O G R A M a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u t h F l o r i d a 4 2 0 2 E F o w l e r A v e n u e L I B 1 2 2 T a m p a F L 3 3 6 2 0


Land Use Oral History Project Patel Center for Global Solutions University of South Florida Interview with: Ms. Paula Harvey Interviewed by: William Mansfield Location: Tampa, Florida Date: August 25, 2006 Transcribed by: Wm. Mansfield Edited by: P aula Harvey & Wm. Mansfield Audit Edited by: Jessica Merrick Audit Edit Date: January 9, 2008 Final Edit by: Nicole Cox Final Edit Date: January 17, 2008 WM: This is Bill Mansfield [from the University of South Florida,] talking to Ms. Paula Harvey in t he What building is this? PH: This is County Center. WM: The County Center building in downtown Tampa on August 25, 2006. Ms. Harvey we always get people to start out by having them state their name and telling us when they were born and where they were born. PH: Okay. WM: So let her go. particular, Jackson, [Tennessee], where I was born and raised. I was born there in 1949. PH: May 14, 1949. WM: Okay. PH: I was educated in Tennessee. I went to college at Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee. I have twin daughters, Lori and Renee and they were both born there as well. In 1980 we elected to come to Florida. My husband was out of work at the time. The economy was not so great, but things were really booming in Florida, so we were told and what we understood. I had a couple of friends who had come down here as w ell. The job market was very, very good in my field, which is planning.


2 WM: Uh huh. PH: So I came down here and I interviewed in several places and I was offered a job. So we relocated to Florida in 1980. Um we thrived down here, at least financially, an d for our own security, we did. My children were students in the public school system, in Pinellas County. Ultimately [they] went to the University of Florida, both of them did. I started to work in Hills borough County in 1989. WM: I was going to say, tell me your occupation and describe that for me. worked, initially, out of school I worked for the state of Tennessee as a p lanner, but strangely enough it was actually working in the field of criminal justice. WM: Um hm. PH: The federal government had a federal grant program and we provided assistance, nt functions, worked and I worked there for quite a long time. And then I moved to the Parks and Recreation Department for the state there. I got familiar with the park systems of the state of Tennessee and worked in that area. The importance of that is really, that it was my immediate background when I moved to Florida. The first job I got here in Florida was with the city of Tampa. I was a Parks and Recreation planner. But I was only there for a very short time, because I was recruited to the city of Clearwater. [It was] in the city of Clearwater where I started working [in 1980] is the area of zoning and land use. I worked as a staff planner ther e for four years. Then I was promoted, actually to the director of the department. My predecessor had gone to another organization in Pinellas County and the city manager appointed me in his place. I served as the planning director in Clearwater for five years, until 1989. I [was] offered a position in Hillsborough County as a manager for a part of what was known [at that time] as the Planning and Zoning Department. Part of that job was dealing with zoning and land use matters. There were other functions that were assigned to the position, but those were the primary things that I dealt with. And within the first two years that I was with the department, there was a lot of reorganization that went on. Our department got larger. [The] building department an d planning department merged with each other, as well as another department that was called the development services.


3 We all merged together into one large department. As a part of that reorganization there was a different alignment made of the managemen t in the department and I was given the assignment, from the county administrator, as the zoning administrator for the county. So, there was a little bit more focus that was given to what it was that I did in my job, but now, all of a sudden I was doing it for the entire county. Before I had only been assigned a particular part of the county to deal with. do, my supervisory authority has expanded to where now I Management Department. WM: Okay. PH: (c huckles) PH: It is a mouthful. exactly what it is you do. as pect of it, if you will. WM: All right. PH: The community planning program has been in existence [in the county] now for almost ten years. We [and the Board of County Commissioners] were experiencing concerns by various neighborhoods and community areas throughout the county about, essentially what they described as threads of development that were going to change their lives and the quality of life in their community. WM: Um huh. PH: They were looking for things to protect them. WM: Um huh.


4 PH: To protect them from big developments coming in and ruining things, although we had the comprehensive plan for the county. The comprehensive plan has very broad describ es in its goals and policies. We have our own land use map, which brings a little bit more definition about what can go in an area, but even then, those categories are fairly broad. The next step then for a member of the community is to see what the zoni ng code would do to them the land development code, as we call it now. That was a big jump for them, going from a broad general policy into a specific item. It left a lot of room for applicants for zoning to come in and ask for all kinds of uses and change s on the zoning atlas. I think the citizens really thought things were out of control. They practically begged and pleaded the Board of County Commissioners to figure out a different method, whereby the community itself could be more involved in making de terminations about what was going to go on in their communities. So the Community Planning Program was created in Hillsborough County, to do just that. Essentially, what we have done, and we do this program in conjunction with the Planning Commission the y work on it as well so it is really a joint effort. The Planning Commission is a Administrator; they are a separate independent agency, that was established by a special act of the [State] Legislature, to provide for an independent review, if you will, of the long range planning of Hillsborough County. The intent being that it is not necessarily governe agency was created. Their responsibility is the comprehensive plan, which has a lot of different elements to it, more than just land use. There are other things that they address in it. But land use seems to be the one that gets the most attention. WM: Um huh. PH: Seems to be the one that people are most interested in. So they play a part in it, they get involved in it. The idea was with the community planning program that it would be an intervening step. It woul d be the next level if you will of a comprehensive plan and if a community plan was adopted, it actually becomes part of the comprehensive plan. So at that point it becomes regulatory. o zoning except when it is consistent with the comprehensive plan. So, by building in community made the citizens feel like they were in a lot more control than maybe they had been before.


5 WM: Um huh. PH: [At this point, I would say] we are over half done with the county the county, over different areas of the county. In fact the very firs t plans that were done were actually done in the northwest part of the county and in Lutz, the least urbanized areas if you will of that part of the county. with our pl part of the county, south of the Little Manatee River. That will be coming up in the future. What happens is we actually garner the forces of the community, we make big ann These would be [made up of] people from the community who are committed to working with the staff to come up with a community plan. Then take it back to the larger community to determine whether or not they like it or they agree with it or not. Once tha community planning staff is involved in. Now there are a lot of other types of reviews that they do. B esides that main function we have a coordination role with the School Board and their planning staff, which is very important. We also provide, through that particular section the oversight for the statutory defined as The other major thrust of the division that I manage is the zoning section. Zoning runs for administrative review to sub divide a piece of property into two pieces of property. It includes our processing applications for variances and special uses um We do a lot of review and processing. Ah the regulations are in the code and eit her approving them or denying them. So we do a lot of that. We provide ah plan that gets reviewed in the county, the zoning staff is reviewing it to make sure that ed on a piece of property conforms with all the rules and regulations of the zoning.


6 The one function that we do that is probably the most time consuming, the one that gets the most public presence and the one that gets the most attention from the Board o f County Commissioners is the re zoning process. Essentially what happens is zoning defines for somebody what they are allowed to do on a piece of property. It also defines what their development requirements are. Where they can put buildings, how high t hey can be, things like that. And [it defines] the uses that can go on inside those buildings. property, they are in a position where they have to re zone. Because we ca there is no way to administratively authorize somebody to do something that the zoning they they go through in Hillsborough County is, they file their application not only us, but a lot of other agencies besides us. Then it is scheduled for a public hearing in front of a hearing master. The hearing master conducts a public hearing. All of this is noticed the surrounding public [is notified]. Peo it. After that is done, the hearing master himself also makes a recommendation on this matter. So when an application goes to the Board of County Commissioners for final decision it goes with three formal recommendations: one from the planning and growth management department, one from the planning commission (regarding consistency with the plan) and then another one which is the recommendation of the hearing master. So the Board of Count y Commissioners, every second and fourth Tuesday, when they that was established at the hearing, before the hearing master. They are the final decision makers. They are the ones that are going to determine whether or not it can be approved most of them get approved. (coughs) I apologize. PH: Most of them actually get approved. The thing is, for the ones that don their paying a high priced attorney to represent them and they are going to go all the way with it, if they can. Or n the review process con troversy against them. They were basically successful in getting through the process and addressed whatever issues there might have been if there were any from the public around them, and they are proceeding on to the Board.


7 When that happens we actually put the m on the consent agenda for the Board of County by the Board, because everybody has recommended approval and there is no public controversy against them. The Bo on consent. The ones that are not on consent, are the ones that people see on TV, read about in the paper um end up having news stories [written about them] And in some case s end up making creating and making new politicians in the process. Because there will be activists and they will be involved in a zoning petition somewhere along the way. WM: Is there an appeals process from the County Commissioners, or is that the last word? PH: The only appeal J. Harris Act as it is known, that was adopted by the Florida State Legis lature in 1995 kind of permit or development order, they can be heard by a special master. In that process it describes who can participate in the process. It is kind of a two step thing. It encourages mediation, if you will. And no matter if it is mediated or not, the final determination by the hearing master is not final. It still requires an approval by the Board of County Commissioners. So it always has to go back. them. About half of them have been approved by the board, when they went through that process. The rest of them, they were still not successful. There is no requiremen t that anybody has to go through that process but if they do ah prohibit them from, or keep them from pursuing action in court at some later date. They all have the opportunity to go to straight to court right after they get a denial from primary appeal route. zoning unique property rights process that somebody can avail themselves of if they choose to. part of the pr ocess; they just went straight to court. PH: Go right ahead.


8 process. PH: Okay. WM: But you said that the county planning program grew out of members of the community feeling threatened by development? PH: What they saw was their quality of life deteriorating. You know, they would be in t here was going to be a big shopping center coming in, or a mall. And they had never even contemplated such a thing. The average citizen does not have any familiarity, at all, with the zoning or the planning them for that. I mean people are busy with WM: Uh huh. (laughs) they just totally depend ing on their realtor to tell them everything they [need] to know. they are planning on building a mall a quarter of a mile down the road [People] find out about these things when the notices go out in the public hearing process from our office. People get every unnerved. They get very cars, every day coming into their neighborhood, that they never thought was going to be there before. This is just an example of the t Problem is, from our perspective as planners and the documents that we have that are all and avail themselves of the information that we have. After awhile they learn. It only takes one time for a citizen to receive a notice in the mail


9 [about] a re going on in their area. Many of them choose to be more involved, because, t want this kind of thing to keep on happening. For a general term I call them citizen activists. WM: Um huh. become very committed in this process, to be involv speak against something if they think they need to. Or, in some cases actually work with an applicant, or work with a developer, through their various citizen organization, to come up with a better project than the one in itially planned for. WM: Um huh. PH: We have a number of those. Well, we have a lot of those in Hillsborough County. We even provide within our own county government a neighborhood relations office. Its sole purpose is to make sure that the neighborhoods and the citizens in this county are involved [and] have an opportunity to be involved, if they choose to, on things that are going on in county government and in the general area of their neighborhood. We actually use that office in some cases to get the doing with the code. I know the planning commission has used that office to help them in preparing for community events, for things that they are planning on addressing in the comprehensive plan. So, the county is doing everything that it can to try and get the citizens involved. We have a whole lot of citizens that are involved but not nearly as many as maybe there should be. Because we still get people that call up that are just flabbergasted that somebody would think a bout doing something in their neighborhood that they cannot just possibly imagine how they would do it, or even ask for it! WM: Um huh e being very, very upset. And as a consequence, a lot of certainly not the staf Rumors get started. People hear things. They hear a neighbor talk about something that they thought they read in the paper, or they heard from so mebody at church or whatever. WM: Um huh.


10 PH: Is it going to be happening? A lot of times they will hear things before we do, before the business of going out and trying filed to inform us if somebody has a request in the mail. But a lot if times what will happen is the developer will go out and public and say you know all of that with no now until the application is filed. So a lot of times the citizens know before we do. But most of the time mail, or see one of our big signs on the property inform ing them they are re zoning that WM: But there were just a lot of these objections? Had this been an on going process, or just all of a sudden, because of growth in Hillsborough County there were a lot of I mentioned before, for the northwest part of the county, in Keystone and in Lutz. [They] are rural by nature at least all of Keystone is and a good part of Lutz [is]. The people that live up there were starting to get pressure from all sides: from Pasco County, for stuff going on in Pinellas County and their own borders from Hillsborough County. They were getting into a situation where it was like, [at] every public hearing there was another application to re zone something else in Keystone. WM: Um huh. Not all of them [were] particularly wealthy, the y may have had a lot of money. And some of them were farmers. A lot of them so a lot of them had fields for their horses and show areas and everything. They just were not going to see go away and disappear right in front of them. So they fought to preserve what they had. The Keystone plan unless somebody changes it at some point in the future that area will remain rural. It absolutely will. [The plan] actually identifies the areas where there is an opportu no provision for anymore of these quarter acre lot subdivisions. They will not happen. There is no opportunity for them to do so. Somebody would have to come in and


11 completely re do and change their plan in order to open the door for somebody to rezone, to do something else. The rural area of Lutz is the same way. It has the same sort of preservation concepts in it. take an area like Thonotasassa. Thonotosassa does have a lot of farming, does have a lot of agricultural interest, but what they were getting pressure from was um people who wanted to use their land for things like borrow pits [and] land fills. The reason they were pr essured is table is way, way below ground. I mean Of any place in Hillsborough County it is probably the most attractive for a developer. piece building subdivisions and all kinds of stuff like that. But, for the people that have lived there all of their lives and have families that were there all of thei WM: Um huh. said it over and over again. WM: (laughs) Um huh. PH: So when the Thonotasassa plan was done, it was done as well, to preserve the smaller than a one clear that their preference is you have five acre tracts or larger. Pretty much the same concept that you have in Keystone. Um having those plans in place, what happens is, if somebody does want to r e zone a piece of property there are limits on what they can ask for. They are not going to be able to come in and ask for these small ance of having a community plan. Now, we have done them on also in Riverview and Gibsonton. They came in and they those processes were going on about the time uh about three or four years ago, when all of the development really, really started in the sout h part of the county. For the most part I have to say that the majority of what has been built out there in


12 much that was different, but what they did do, in the areas that had actually not been plan for what was already in place. But they did seek to preserve and lessen the allowable essence. Plus, they wanted to concentrate, clearly identify where their commercial areas would be. Their little town centers and where they would have public facilities and where they might want to develop areas of community interest. You know historical preservation areas and things like that. So [community planning is] a very interactive process. It absolutely sets the stage for what we as designing people can foresee and the ultimate development patter in those areas. We um are working right now in the East Lake Orient area, which is out there around the fair grounds, in that area south of I now ean? PH: Uh it was actually larger, I think, than what it is today. What has happened is that re ir grounds out 4 improvements that have happened. So you end up with a much smaller area that is actually identified as a residential area. Their identity trying to resurrect that, because there are some people that have lived there a long, long WM: Um huh. e lot of people that are there. And the community energized to get into this community planning process. I think once we see more people coming in and showing up. PH: Um huh. WM: Well that was my well first one question, right quick. PH: Um huh.


13 WM: Tell me again, about when did this community planning progr am [get] started? PH: Back in 1995. WM: Okay, 1995. And putting together the working committee, to help determine the zoning of an area, what kind of people show up? I mean, you said you were having a hard time with this areas. PH: It [runs] the gamu opening process to work through these community plans. You realize very quickly there is no single area of Hillsboroug They are all unique. They clearly have community identity, that you may not even have known the interesting. All of them have their own history. All of them have historical backgrounds; major families who settled in the particular area and kind of created the identity of t he area in the first place. They are all very, very unique that way. Um lifetime just examining the history of the different communities in Hillsborough County. WM: Um huh. P we send out fliers, we put up posters. We try to make sure we hit all of the community organizations and businesses in the area to let them know. [We] invite them to a general up having two or three of those, depending on how the attendance works. Most of the communities, actually, in spite of us telling them Um um well; the Wimauma is probably the best example that I can think of, off the top of my head. In fact I went to the orientation meeting for the Wimauma community planning area. [We were meeting at the elementary school.] I have never seen such a room fu ll. The entire cafeteria was packed! Standing room only. People were so mad and angry that the government was coming into their town and their community to tell them what they could and could not do. It never got violent, but they were not understanding at all of what we


14 were trying to do. The meeting deteriorated form the moment it started until we finally called it a day. We ended up having to have two or three of them, just to get people calmed down enough to hear what it was we were saying. They were very, very skeptical of the county coming in and trying tell them what to do. with, to define their community and to keep it ongoing. Now, they can hardly wait. They mindset change, from what we started with two years ago. Really what happens is peo ple decide that they have the time and are committed to wanting to work in this process. They get excited about it. All of a sudden they start seeing possibilities. WM: Um huh. PH: All of a sudden they start having a vision of what could be even better t han what they better what we have today and opening the doors for some new possibilities. since now gone away and they want it back. Now it seems possible again! And they got Hillsborough County to help them do it. Those are the kinds of things that really spur the community on, that people get excited why stick with it. on working on it. The working committee ends up being a smaller group. Usually [about] twenty people is how it kind of works out. [They] meet, pretty much every other week. The staff that are assigned to them, on this case, are all these people from both our agency and th e planning commission. They are working with them. They are putting together work products and doing maps and all kinds of data and information [that] they are bringing back to the working committee to review. They are working, literally, around the table with pencils and crayons in hand. They are talking and exchanging ideas. This goes on in that hard working form like that for at least six months. Until they, as a commun


15 there, they thought you were going down to [Wimauma] to tell them what to do? PH: Absolutely. WM: But in reality you were going down there to clich but to empower them. To let them know what they could do, to shape their future? It is not the government coming in and cleanest slate as we possibly can. If we have anything in our hands it is a map of are all the current [land] uses out here in your community today. This is it. Now where do input into it? uh to put yourself in the position of even telling them what it is that can be done. What you have to keep doing is asking them, t us millions and millions of dollars to get the that to improve it, to make it more attractive, more usable, easier to get to, or whatever? So, yeah the planners themselves that are working this process are very good about presenting um times; in fact most of the pla nners have done this. What we actually do is kind of a visioning charrette, if you will. We go in there with a lot of architectural renderings, drawings and pictures of how things ions from the perspective of design. It may be nothing more than having a particular themed faade that they want to have on, say buildings in their little town center. You know like it looking like the 1890s or do you want it to look like the I mean is, once eve rybody has participated in the type of charattes and visioning processes what


16 back, to them working the committee and sometimes the larger group as well. Because every Are we headed in the right direction? Is there something the larger community knows about that we really need to go back an d think about it again or do it differently? So, we basically devote to an area. cts of design: layout of the community, density allowablities, transportation patterns, environmental things that you want to preserve, features that the community would want to have added to their community. Maybe they want a library or a community center or something like that. getting people to provide putting on a piece of paper for them is actually what the y meant and what they said. Finally you do, you get to the point where you come to a conclusion. The working general adoption and compliance. Then, when we actually take these plans to the Board [of County do it for them. We get them to present the plan to the board. It is their pla n. do that. Exactly! If somebody comes in with a re zoning petition, we review it against that document and WM: You said that if the plan that [the Wimauma Co mmunity] came up with was a work decided what their future would be. PH: Well, hum. How can I describe it best? Wimauma was kind of an area that was lost over the years. I think at one time, back in thriving community, unto itself. Everybody kne w each other. People would gather together in an area there along the highway that kind of created their own downtown


17 shopping district for them. There was [a] grocer there and a post office and things like that. Over the years things kind of started to d eteriorate away from that. Some of the people who owned the small business in the community decided to locate in the shopping center down the highway, where their business could grow and be better. Some of the larger family interests that were not as succe ssful in some of their agricultural ventures and so do something different with it than what had historically been done on the property and d wanted to build on it, you know? So the community itself albeit except for some names on the buildings and stuff, in the eyes of somebody driving through, on their way Bartow (or wherever they might be g unique at all. WM: Um huh. PH: Plus, you had the characteristic, in that particular community (where essentially you had two communities, a white community and a black community). They were divided by the highway. You could easily see the differences f rom one side to the other. It was really [the community] was just falling apart. It was a place where nobody wanted to go to any more. When we started this community planning effort, I realized, right off the bat, when we had the general community plan, w e really did have some people who had been down there for a long, long time and they had no intention of leaving. They absolutely wanted it to be better and if they were angry about anything they were angry that they had been ignored. Not that they wanted anybody to come in and tell them what to do. But they sure did want somebody to come in and pay some attention to them. They had crappy utility services that they wanted to see get fixed. They felt like that had been involved in prior re zoning petitions emanating from down there, everybody had entirely ignored what they had to say. If anybody want to rezone, they got it. No matter what! But those were some very strong interest. Now the part about that was, in the room at that time there were a lot of de velopment interests there. Attorneys for developers were in there, that were watching very closely because Wimauma was wide open ground as far as they were concerned. [It was] a new area to be developed, you know? They were starting to fill up Gibsonton an d Riverview. Wimauma was the place to go next. So they were very interested in what would be going on with this plan. And then, surprisingly, very surprisingly to me, you had another element in the room, which were interests in Sun City Center, who were not particularly enamoured with Wimauma, or that community. In fact, they kind of resented [Wimauma]. They seemed


18 huge Hispanic influence that has come into Wimauma as well. With that came families who are very interested in improvements in their schools [and] improvements in their those were competing interests, entirely. I mean Sun C ity people actually said that they wanted to have the final say about what got approved for Wimauma. We had to very kindly inform them that this was not their plan. This is the plan for the Wimauma Community. It would be the Wimauma Community that would be ght it. WM: Um huh. PH: But, yeah, there were a lot of competing interests that were in that room that night. We just made it very clear that our interests were in working with the community, the real community: people who had lived there and had their h trying to fashion a plan that was going to be of particular interest, one way of the other, the development community. It was there to try to define the community of Wimauma. ghs) That was the next big thing we had to deal with. In fact it even came up the very first night. Some people had retty much defined it to be 301, and then it went to they are right on the other side. it took several meetings for them And in fact, interestingly enough, that has been the hottest topic to deal with and one of home. People no matter where they live identify themselves as being in a place and get very upset when you tell them So, yes, it was a pretty hard fought battle, just to be able to define the community of Wimauma just like it was. We had the same dilemma in Gibsonton. We had the same dilemma in the Apollo Beach area. We had the same dilemma in Riverview. We even had the same dilemma in [the Tampa s ubdivision of] Town and Country, trying to define


19 So once you get past that, once you get to know who the real players are, because of the c past. reference as to where things were, or where they thought they shoul d have been all along. players are. The similarities of those individuals really start coming through and they are able to start putting things together. WM: I guess th ese are communities without any officially defined boundaries? concepts various concepts. PH: Many of them actually have in fact in our initia to be doing a community plan we will always include every area that the post office is identified by that name. WM: Um huh. The y give totally different justifications as to what areas they identify and Gibsonton, there as the first notice of where they are. Then we find out later, that there are some people that resent the fact that they were ever even identified that way by the post office, jurisdictional lines, but we use that as a start, to at least to get the community together. The people who live there themselves are the ones who define the community. WM: So what did Wimauma finally decide for itself? set from the highway, believe it or not, is a town center. We were able to get them to understand that we were not going to be able to make the highway, 674, go away. WM: Um huh.


20 route over to Polk County. Um go away. But if you want to have a little downtown area where you can have shops and stores and stuff and people can feel safe walking in it, we really ought to be trying to move to one side of the highw ay or the other. They actually choose to move, primarily, WM: So that area has been zoned, set aside for commercial use? PH: Not yet. It will be. WM: Okay. PH: We s till have another whole year to go through. Once we go through the comprehensive plan, there may be areas of that, under the jurisdiction of the plan that working process as well, to go through and make sure you get things defined. We did that in Citrus Park. It was another whole year, actually after their plan was adopted before we ever got the re zonings done to define those types of things up there. But they have um a tra il system that was always proposed to go around through Wimauma plan. um associated with the school. um What else? defined the areas of density, the distinct lines drawing distinctions as to where it will be lower densities and where they will have allowablity for highe r densities than that. based on what the community envisions for itself as to wh at those areas will be and what WM: You mentioned that the developers have attorneys there to I imagine in a there are real estate people, developers who see potential there to subdivide the land and benefit from that. PH: In Wimauma, fortunately the community actually saw that there was opportunity for new development. We kind of convinced them that it was goi ng to be coming and knocking at their door. Assuming that it would be, we got the community to design where nothing else can geographically prohibitive for doing development.


21 WM: Um huh. PH: The major well fields for the county are up there, a lot of lakes, a highway system that is kind of features like that, that are built into the community really do they are the first red flag for doing a lot of new, large type of development. That kind of prohibiti on and um you let them know there are opportunities for new development to come in here. In that case there were even interests in the community for new housing, affordable housing, things like that to a ccommodate the people who live there already. They recognize that. So what they did do was define the areas where you could have the smaller lots, the higher density. Where they wanted to keep it larger and more estate like, to reflect some of the older um community to define that for themselves. So that way, somebody from the outside wanting to come in and [proposes] say a mixed use housing with some townhouses and some single family homes the development c ommunity a little bit better. PH: Um huh. WM: And I was just wondering how much of a reality there is to that? defined to be within the urban [service] area, where you have public water and sewer. It is going to be subdivisions. It is going to be de velopment along the roadways, or town WM: Um huh. PH: The real opportunity for pristine community, if you will, is going to be in the rura l we have defined the urban area, versus the rural area. The rural area will not easily become an urban area because the whole plan has to change for that to happen. So we do have a lot of controls in place for those types of issues.


22 very co NIMBY [Not In My B ack Yard] syndrome. WM: (laughs) right next door to me. WM: Right. ah I guess maybe in some form some people are even thinking that the reaso and make sure they are not next door to me. (laughs) You know? Whatever! I have no idea what it is for individual persons, what is the impetus for them to want to participate or de vote the time it takes to participate in the community planning process. But I know it runs the gamut for a lot of people. WM: But you talked about the working committees of about twenty people and I was wondering just how representative they were of th e community? PH: They are pretty broad based, actually. They [are made up of] residents who live Citrus Park was very interesting in the layout of their working committee. They had people there that they had ret ired people, they had working people. They had people who owned business in Citrus Park, they had people who were just landowners, that were eventually going to sell. So they had some interest in what the economy of the area was going to end up being. Resi dents um it ran the full gamut. [On the working committee] we try, as much as possible, to not have outside interests; maybe [from] a community down the road who, somehow, wants to have some control over what it is that is going to happen there. We try to keep that out of the working committee as much as possible. And for the most part they quickly become alienated by th e other people in the group, because the WM: Um huh.


23 PH: They are there for whatever reason, but they are not really there for them or their community. And they quickly pick working committee], but after a while they became so alienated side 1 ends; side 2 begins PH: or argued against by the other people in the working committee, they were forced being on it. They kind of self works. But we d going to work for them. We really do need their attendance at almost all of the meetings. Ev erybody understands that you [might] have an emergency that happens or a special event that comes up that keeps you from a regular meeting, or something. But we need that commitment up and w e need as much consistency and inclusion of all the members of that group as it is that we need to be doing and putting down on paper. So we do tell them right knowing they are repre You know working committee is really going to be a close working WM: And these are all volunteers? We started out the community planning program in 1995, actually, with trying to define who needed to be in these groups. We did it by virtue of categories, if you will; a business owner, a property owner a landowner or a developer. Categories of people, we did that. We would define that in a before we would launch an effort in a community.


24 We initially did that with Citrus Park, the first time we were there. Oh my God! Talk about a failure! It was terrible. Talk about a disaster. We spent over a year, trying to get In fact we even had a director that (I think) lost her job, because the Citrus Park Plan was going so badly. Um in the interim, before we got a new director on board, one of the assistant county ad ministrators got assigned to head the department. I think he was So we did, we started over. Now every body was upset about it. The board when I got up in front of the Board of County Commissioners and told them, that we needed to start over, I though Jim Norman was going to just can get the community to jell into a So at that point we did and we did it all volunteer. We started out with a whole new notice to all of Citrus Park, that we were going to be restarting the community planning effort and we wanted their participation as much as possible. We forced ourselves to a different mindset about how community planning could work and be successful. That one was very, very successful. After one more year we had a product They were standing up WM: So, in the first attempt, that sort of failed, you all targeted who should be there? PH: We targeted interest groups, not persons per se, but areas of interest. We as we had identified that we wanted a business owner in the group and we had three owners come controllin g in a way. But that was how we started. That was how we thought it needed to be done. trying to do was to make sure we had all of areas of interest represented; so that we would have a broad picture [of the community] and a broad base of interest to work from in developing the community plan.


25 What we found out was is that is not really the way to do it. [If you want to have a product that represents the community] you really do need to get the people to volunteer who want to become a part of it. And by default, by their own very nature what you end citizens. You actually do end up with people just by volunteers and default within the community you wind up with people who are varied in their backgrounds have different interests in the community. But they are all there committed to the purpose. That what the volunteerism gives you, it gives you commitment to the purpose. WM: Um huh. PH: Then you end up with a group that really does work. WM: In theory there could be seventy five people in the working group? PH: Well we do tell them right up front that it is not practicable to get that many people five people in your working committee. So what we do, say is you know we strive to over twenty WM: Um huh. PH: We know that, just as a matter of practice. You start getting a group too large you never really get final decisions made. WM: Do you ever have any problems with more people wanting to serve than you can actually allow? their time to being on the working committee. But once you get that gro up, once you actually get enough, that we feel like we have a group that we can work with consistently, then yeah PH: Yeah. WM: That was what? When somebody is appealing a zoni ng decision? PH: Actually what the state law provides for is that any development order issued by the local government. And a development order is defined, by state law, as anything from a real permit that allows you to go and do something all the way up to a re zoning action by the Board of County Commissioners or the City Council. Whatever the case may be.


26 a result, what happened I mean not too often that people apply for a permit (assuming they meet the requirements for getting the permit considered in the fist place). zoning and they get denied. And for whatever the reasons there might be, they have availed themselves of this process. was put in place. But the result of it, at least in Hillsborough County, our experience has actions, or permit denials on the part of the county, go through the property right s act, only the re zoning. So you know when an applicant I guess if they feel like that they have a chance. administrative remedies. (Which is a requirement for them to file a lawsuit on a zoning case or any permit case for that matter.). The court considers that the property rights act is one of those administrative processes we need to go through. So a lot o it is much cheaper than them having to pay all the costs for filing a lawsuit in court. And I guess in their eyes, there is a fifty t. Or at least something close enough to it that they can live with [the decision] if they go through this process and get back in front of the board again. So yes whenever there is a zoning agenda that we take to the Board and there is a denial on it; I can pretty much count on getting a property rights case out of it. land for loan purposes. When I get ready to retire I can sell my land for development and cash PH: Um huh. was just wondering, like If it came time for him to sell his land for development and he PH: The county is not going to prohibit him from selling his land. What the county may not do is approve the zoning for the person who is potentially going to buy the land and bought it under a contract contingent upon re zoning. Um No the farmer himself, although he could, as the owner (because the owner always has to sign the application).


27 eveloper] comes in for a re zoning application. He has to have the authorization of the property owner to file that application for re zoning. The property owner is actually a party to the re zoning request. If it fails in front of the Board County Commiss ioners, yes either the developer or the property owner, or both can pursue the property right process. There is still no guarantee. Like I said County Commissioners. They are the ones who still have the fina l say about it. But yeah they can pursue it. Um to one way or the other. It is interesting. If they are out in the middle of the rural area and there may be developments that minimal at that point. There could be some expectation on their part that they would have the ability to sell it and subdivide it into maybe a large lot subdivision at some point in the future. And if arena, there is no guarantee about any of that. Yeah the plan may very well say that mo way) a few lots here and there that are one acre. Maybe even some of them are smaller than that. But the large majority of the area is [divided into] ten acre parcels and bigg er. So what happens is that when this farmer decides that he is ready to get his property re zoned, he comes in for one acre zoning and finds all of his neighbors sitting in the room may still be acre home sites sitting over there. Because all [those home sites] are going to do is bring in people who are going to complain about what they are doing on their farm. So they fight it. So he may feel that as a property owner that he has every right to do what he wants [to do] on his property. Legally, the argument would be, he has every right to do on his today [strikes table for emphasis], not than I ever imagined. And it is about 3:15 and you said that [you had to leave at] 3:30. Oh man there are many more questions I could ask, but there is one I want to ask before [we] close out.


28 Another person I interviewed, who is in real estate, talked ab out an incident where they had some land that they sold. It was land that had once been a farm, but [now] was surrounded by development. PH: Um huh. WM: And they wanted to subdivide it. But the people surrounding the [proposed] subdivision opposed the pl an. PH: Um huh WM: I think he said it had been divided number), forty five lots. He said it went before the Board of County Commissioners and it ended up the County Commissioners allowed him to develop forty lots, rather than forty five lots. PH: Um huh. WM: Is that a common [solution]? PH: Very common. WM: Who does that satisfy? PH: (laughs) satisfy him. PH: It satis criticism of the Board at all. But I certainly if I were sitting in their seats I may very well do the same thing. And in some sense, the staff does the same thing when an applican t comes in. Applications get filed all the time. Typically what will happen the, the application comes in asking for the maximum amount that would be allowed under the plan. We sit there as that maybe the smallest lot around you is half an acre. If you start trying to develop lots that are ten thousand square feet, instead of So we would suggest that maybe when you file your application you ask for the half acre consistent wit


29 whoever his attorney, or planning ng out saying you want a half with. something whatever in terms of tota consistent with the plan. project or them, or tell them that we think they need larger lots (maybe on that other that it must be half acre lots. It goes through the zoning hearing and then after a process meeting, the hearing master has recommended that there be half [Then] it goes to the Board. The same people who were opposed to it, are still opposed to rstand that the plan gives you certain rights to have a certain amount of density. You did ask for ten thousand square foot lots, what he walks out with. want one third acre lots, he really wanted ten thousand square feet. The third acre lots. They wanted half acre lots, or larger, [or none at all.] WM: Um huh PH: The Board struck a compromise. In their minds [the Board] ad dressed the issues of the opponents to the project, by requiring larger lots. And so when they walk away, they Now the developers (Not the property owner. For the most part the better deal than I though I was going to get. I cold have ended up only being able to build half not going to pay you as much as the contract initially called for, because


30 out of it than what the applicant originally sought. Everybody has a different attitude abou everyone [with Is it bad? (chuckles) there are a lot of pe ople that would go out there and tell you that it is terrible. That it is really bad and just getting worse as time goes on. families here. Their kids are staying here as long as they can find a job. And we got more people than we know what to do with, coming in from the outside. Yes, we do have our problems. We all have our problems. Every urban area a very good job at trying deal with them. In terms of the decisions that the board makes um I got to give them a lot of credit. I time has gone on. Most of what you see out there on the ground today would have always been there anyway, just not as soon. If there is anything that has aggravated this County the most is that we have grown a s [much] as we have as soon as we have. The plan always contemplated new development, just out away, a longer period of time for it to get [here]. [Development] would have always been there. the Board is in a position t o slow development, to PH: Well, the Board as a group ot, or usually always is, on any given Board, one or two of its members who are consciously trying to do exactly that. Um of County Commissioners she advocated [slow growth]. S he was very open about it. She She was against a lot of things.


31 democratic way of l did grow a whole lot faster, as a result of that. But the mind set of this Board of County Commissioners in Hillsborough County um are we growing and what is the tax bas screaming that they need. They have an economy to [look out] for. If we do not have a sufficient population base to e not going to have a good The real thing that you have to be concerned about a nd be careful about is where do you let that growth happen? I would tell you that our best device for having done that in Hillsborough County was establishing the urban area versus the rural area in 1992. That set the pattern for development in this coun ty. Now, a lot of people who live in part of that urban area, at the urban area. That is where the growth is going to happen. going to be a rural area, that will be a rural area. [It will be] at least far enough away from the fringe, because that fringe is going to The biggest gripe that people have ab out development in this county, at least from what I problem. Up until the school board was able to get on board and get funds established for pattern either. Those were the two areas, schools and transportation, that are the biggest headaches for us to suggest that the school board is probably doing a much better job at accommodating the growth as the transportation is. But um the transportation system, it gets more


32 ex pensive day by day, because the cost of materials and the cost of property that we have paying taxes. But they are bringing kids to the schools and they are traveling on the roads. Those two elements are deficient. The schools will be all right now. The impact fees have been increased. They got new money from the state. The schools are going to be okay. The transportation system [is] faltering. They really, really do need t o work on it and have more funds devoted to it. the county, just to pay for them. WM: Um huh. PH: But transportation system is our weakest area right now, for accom modating new PH: Well, the othe r day you mentioned to me you said this [interview] was going to be used for future research. Is this by your student population, or people WM: It will be in the Special Collections of the of the University Library. PH: Uh huh. WM: So I can imagine peo ple um a planning student looking at it. I can imagine someone who is writing a dissertation, or writing a book on urban planning looking at it. PH: Oh, okay. WM: And in order for [people] to have access to [this interview] we need your permission on a r elease form. PH: Sure. PH: Oh you have? WM: Do you mind if I take your picture?


33 WM: (laughs) Okay. Well, let me t hank you for taking the time to talk with me. PH: Sure. end of interview

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West Central Florida land use oral history project
Paula Harvey, the director of the Planning and Zoning Division of the Planning and Growth Management Department of Hillsborough County, talks about land development in the county. She discusses community planning programs, the Bert J. Harris Act, issues of community identity, the zoning approval process, Wimauma, Keystone, Lutz, Sun City, and developers' strategies. She focuses on her experiences with zoning and fielding the concerns of the community.
Interview conducted August 25, 2006, in Tampa, Fla.
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Hillsborough County
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