RIVERVIEW - As a resident in the Tropical Acres area of Riverview for the last 26 years, Karen Arnold believes she's a part of the community. But as a Carnival owner, there are times when her family feels like outsiders.
"It's profiling," said Arnold, speaking at a public hearing about whether Carnival workers can store large equipment on their property.
"My daughter's middle school teacher told her before they went to the fairgrounds, 'be careful out there' to a whole group of children. 'Watch the carnies out there. They're bad,'' Arnold said. "You know what? She's wrong. It's profiling."
It's become a contentious debate between a community that's lived in south Hillsborough county since the 1930's, and newer development residents who believe the county shouldn't allow carnival rides, tents, and portable toilets to be stored on residential property.
In an effort to reach a middle ground, county planners are proposing to "grandfather" in existing carnival workers and their equipment, but limit future expansion of that type of land use.
Still, many residents who live by the carnival community aren't happy with the compromise.
"Grandfathering does nothing more than legalize illegal activity by large business owners," said Zoe Fackler of Riverview.
"You're just saying break the law and fine, we're going to reward you," said Roy Webb, another homeowner opposed to allowing the carnival equipment.
Fackler said she moved into the Tropical Acres area at a time when carnivals were on the road, and didn't realize what would happen when they returned to Florida for the off-season.
"All of a sudden we've got rows of porto-potties that you can see from Palm Riverview road, big tarps held on six-foot chain-link fences. My neighbor, one right after the other, in come the trucks and the RV's," Fackler said. "Had I known, I would not have purchased that house."
But carnival employees said those who were unaware of their community are naive, especially considering their long history in the area. Many carnival people bought property in south Hillsborough County long before any subdivisions existed, and the area was little more than empty pastures or farms.
"Unfortunately, they've built 10,000 new homes in the Riverview community that now are going 'Oh my God' we bought here and have no idea," said Joey Even, an employee of Arnold Amusements, Inc.
"I mean, we didn't roll into Fishhawk of roll into Bayshore Boulevard and decide we're going to set up a ferris wheel in the backyard," he said. "It just doesn't work like that."
The board of county commissioners will make a final decision whether to allow the land use change at a hearing in April.