HART delays request by developer to pay for new bus site
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04/06/09 Mitch E. Perry
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Today the Board of Directors with Hillsborough County’s transit agency, HART, voted to delay until early next month a decision regarding a proposal to allow a private developer to fund a new transit site that needs to be built by the end of next month to receive state funding.

The developer, Atlantic Housing, wants and needs bus service to go to an affordable housing project that would be built on Falkenberg Road right near Progress Village in eastern Hillsborough County.

Today, HART Director David Armijo said the agency was already considering building a bus route to the area.

The project by Atlantic Housing project would house 150 units, and by law must have a regularly scheduled service from a public transit agency within 2/10ths of a mile of their site by the time they submit their application to the state, which is May 26.

Mark Gautier is a consultant with Atlantic Housing Partners. He said his company could help fund up to $50,000 to help with the construction of the new route.

Armijo was asked by Commissioner Kevin Beckner what would the costs be to the taxpayer in building such a bus stop.

A HART official said it would cost $51,000 to build 18 stops – bube each way, for a route to the area in question.

Tampa City Councilman John Dingfelder said it was laudable to help get affordable housing built in the county, but said it wasn’t HART’s chief priority.

But Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner said he felt comfortable about going forward with the plan.

Some information on the project was only presented shortly before the meeting to Armjio, prompting Kevin Beckner’s colleague on the County Commission and the HART Board, Rose Ferlita to comment directly to the project’s lead attorney, Vin Marchetti.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe said he appreciated Ferlita’s response, saying he shared her frustrations, but said he thought the HART Board should seize the initiative by being flexible.

At that point, Commissioner Ferlita offered a substitute motion to bring back the matter at the Board’s meeting on May 4.

HART Board member Fran Davin said she could support that, albeit not enthusiastically. The HART Board will vote on the issue on May 4.

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