Valrico residents fight proposed development

Posted at 5:04 PM, Feb 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-19 19:12:01-05

Cows grazing.

Homes situated on at least an acre of property.

For dozens of Valrico residents living off of Little Road just north of Bloomingdale Avenue, this is rural living at its finest.

"Say you live on Little road, they go, "Oh Little Road, we wish we could live on Little Road," said Norma Godsey, who has lived in on the road for 45 years.

Residents like Godsey fear the serenity they've found so close to a metropolitan area will be disrupted by a proposed housing development.

"It seems like an uphill battle," Godsey said.

It's battle residents have fought twice before.  Hillsborough County Commissioners rejected the proposal in 2014 and again in 2015.

"I am a little upset yeah," said Ronald Waldo, who lives adjacent to the 25 acres in question.

The 25-acres is in the name of Charles Anderst Slowley Trustee and the family is represented by Attorney Vincent Marchetti.

According to Marchetti, the family has owned the property for the past 50 years and used it as a farm.

However, they're once again trying to get the property rezoned from agricultural to residential so they can then sell it to a developer who will turn it into a gated community equipped with two retention ponds and between 50-75 houses.

That averages out to about five or six houses per acre.

Most area homes sit on at least an acre of property.

"This is a very rural area.  The nostalgia for here is the rural area...and we want to keep it that way.  That is why I built my house here because I like the rural area, I don't want to be in a subdivision.  I don't want a homeowner's association telling me what to do," Waldo explained.

Aside from ruining the neighborhood's character, residents fear the development, if approved, would compromise safety.

Records show the area has been designated a flood plain and most of the Slowley property is in a natural basin.

FEMA even required Waldo to purchase flood insurance before he built his home.

"Front yard and backyard flood [every time it rains] with less than an inch of water because it runs off the roadway into your yard," Waldo said.

Neighbors say the Slowely property's low elevation results in it flooding whenever there is a heavy rains.

"When it rains, the cows are standing in water, so what does that tell you? There is no basin for runoff in any way," Godsey said.

Just outside the property lines is a document sinkhole as well.

Neighbors have monthly meetings at a local library to strategize how to win this latest battle.

They also have started an online petition and gathered more than 100 signatures.  There goal is to reach 500 before they hand the petition over to commissioners on April 4.

Marchetti told ABC Action News he has already met with concerned residents once and is planning another meeting the first week of March.