Tapping Cone Ranch for Homes?

Cone Ranch uplands Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Water
Cone Ranch uplands Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Water
TAMPA (2009-05-06) -

Cone Ranch is 12,000 acres of untapped water wellfields tucked into the northeast corner of Hillsborough County. Even though the county's water department owns it, there's no money to rehabilitate land that has been ditched and drained for a cattle ranch and sod farm.

So a group of politically-connected investors told county commissioners their idea: Sell it to us, and we'll allow only six 2,000-acre parcels to have one house each. And the rest would be turned into public parkland or preserved forever.

But opponents say the six landowners could ask for comprehensive plan changes and rezonings later - and a future commission may agree.

County commissioners unanimously approved a plan to set up a panel - which would include local environmentalists - to scrutinize the plan.

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