TAMPA, Fla. — When Stephanie Poynor drives around her neighborhood, known as the South of Gandy community, she sees change almost daily.
“This is one of four or five different projects that are in the process,” she said, as she pointed out one of the newest developments, an apartment complex under construction near her home.
The name of Stephanie Poynor’s group of concerned neighbors has become her mission: Stop Overbuilding South of Gandy.
“They have more than doubled the density of our little neck of the woods,” she said. “In South of Gandy — west of Dale Mabry — we have received an influx of 4,877 additional apartment units, not townhouses, not condos, not houses.”
Months ago, her group delivered a report of 14 concerns to the Tampa mayor’s office, which details their worries about over-development and how they feel it’s affecting hurricane evacuation routes and traffic.
“When we moved here, none of this traffic was here,” Poynor said. “Now, we come out of here and we wait and wait and wait. And then, we wait some more.”
Now, the City of Tampa’s Planning department is responding with a report of its own. In an Oct. 25 memo to City Council, Director of City Planning Randy Goers says the city has made strides in addressing many of the neighbors' concerns.
“All of the comments and concerns that we’ve heard have been expressed out of the desire for residents to preserve their community and the quality of life that they love today,” Goers said.
Goers says the City of Tampa is trying to help them in a number of ways. It’s researching the best regulations for mixed-use plans, regulating floor area ratio, and doing more to notify South of Gandy neighbors when a new development is planned. Additionally, it’s pursuing several road projects to alleviate traffic in the community.
The city has also secured funding to launch a Coastal Area Action Plan in January, which will include a community plan for the area South of Gandy. The plan will take about a year to complete with the cooperation and input of neighbors like Poynor.
“That planning effort will provide the opportunity to really look at the questions of development, the appropriateness of development, the concerns that citizens have, and then also, really, what would they like to see in their community,” said Goers.
Poynor is encouraged by what she’s heard from the city.
“These were things that we asked for, and of course, we’re all adults. So, we asked for everything that we want. Now, will we get everything we want? Probably not, but that’s, you know, that’s where negotiations start,” she said. “We’ve made headway.”
However, she says she’s still hopeful for a compromise concerning how many neighbors are notified by the city when a development is proposed in proximity to their homes. Goers says the city is discussing that issue.