A growing movement has some members of the Seminole Heights community looking for ways to fight the addition of a new Family Dollar store on Florida Avenue. The issue of the proposed store has stirred up emotion among some residents posting on Facebook, Seminole Heights Patch and other online websites.
For the City of Tampa, the addition of Family Dollar is a fairly standard procedure. The location at 5100 North Florida Ave. is currently zoned as a Commercial Intensive property, making retail sales within the limits for which the property is zoned.
Some communities have been able to fight Family Dollar's opening in their area during "change of use" hearings. In the case of Seminole Heights, however, such a hearing isn't required.
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"Re-zoning is not required," director of growth management for the City of Tampa Tom Snelling said. "Change of use just means that they are subject to different site plan requirements. That's an evaluation that is done in house to determine if there are issues with things like parking. The company is currently going through that, but that doesn't require or need a public hearing."
That means that those hoping to express their opinions about Family Dollar before Tampa City Council won't likely have that chance.
"It has the correct zoning and is meeting the city codes for retail use," Snelling said. "There is no zoning requirement that specifies a Family Dollar versus a t-shirt boutique. It's retail sales. People can write a letter to council asking them to look at the zoning code and see if there is a way to address different retail types. City Council may ask us to then look at the code and come back with a report," Snelling said.
Hunt Real Estate, the company currently managing the property, declined to comment on the issue surrounding the new Family Dollar. Calls to Family Dollar representative Dean Koutroumanis also went unanswered and messages were not returned.
The building sits on the opposite side of Florida Avenue from the historic district meaning no architectural guidelines are set. As for whether or not there is a loophole for residents to exploit right now, Snelling doesn't see it.
"Family Dollar is doing everything they are supposed to," Snelling said. "It's unfortunate people don't like that store but from a legal perspective the city has to review the parking, landscaping, fire sprinklers, safety codes and electrical and plumbing permits. If they were in a historic district, it would only determine the architectural aspect of the building, but it would have no effect on how it could be used."