BRANDON, Fla. — To Katherine Cosmas, living just outside Brandon proved to be the best of both worlds: it’s close to Tampa, but not too close.
“It was just great to live out here because we were close enough to be into the city, 25 minutes from Tampa, and far enough away where we weren’t in congestion — in traffic — 24/7,” she said.
Lately, however, Cosmas said her daily routine has become more challenging.
Frequent congestion on roads like Bloomingdale Avenue, Lithia Pinecrest Road, and Bell Shoals Road means her commute to work in Hyde Park can now take up to an hour.
“You can never count on anything, and if you’re running late, you’re just going to be late,” said Cosmas.
She fears that bad traffic could soon grow worse if an old cow pasture near the corner of Bell Shoals Road and Guiles Road becomes the area’s newest neighborhood.
The Falcone Group, a Boca Raton-based developer, applied for the proper rezoning to allow for 180 homes on the roughly 38-acre site, which is just north of Bloomingdale Avenue. Currently, the plan calls for 74 single-family homes and 106 townhomes. The development will include an entrance/exit on both Bell Shoals Road and Guiles Road.
“We’re just not prepared for it,” she said. “I understand growth and the need for growth — we live in a great state and a great place — but we're just not prepared for it. Our schools aren’t prepared. Our roads aren’t prepared.”
Kathryn Barry, another neighbor, said regardless of concerns about traffic and other issues, a development with so many townhouses doesn’t fit with the community around it.
The Brandon Community Plan, which guides the community’s growth, calls for “low-density residential” and “single-family homes with lot sizes of at least half-acre” in the area where the development is planned. Areas like that one, according to the community plan, may retain zoning that gives them the “feel of a semi-rural lifestyle.”
“Pretty soon, we are surrounded by something that doesn’t go with the small-town atmosphere of the Brandon Community Plan,” said Barry. “Our focus has never been on no development. It’s just that development that’s consistent with the community, and I think that that’s what we were hoping.”
Those concerns are why she helped launch the Facebook group “Cows to Chaos” for like-minded neighbors to organize and stay informed.
Additionally, she and other neighbors plan to attend a pair of two upcoming meetings.
The project will receive a rezoning public hearing at 6 p.m. on September 19 at the Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library in Tampa.
Additionally, neighbors will get another chance to meet with representatives of the developer during a neighborhood meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Winthrop Barn Theatre (11349 Bloomingdale Ave. in Riverview).
ABC Action News reached out to the developer but has yet to hear back. Nevertheless, in its application filed with Hillsborough County, the Falcone Group said the project “will be compatible with the surrounding area.”
"The project proposes uses that already exist in the area (single-family detached homes and townhomes)," it reads, in part. "These uses are complementary in size and scale to the surrounding area."
Additionally, a traffic study prepared for the developer says traffic should also operate at an “acceptable level” even with the additional traffic the project would create.