The little old white ladies in Keystone have won again! That's what I call the members of the Keystone Civic Association. These ladies have been a tough bunch and formidable foes, as developer Stephen Dibbs has learned again, since he started the project in 2006. Even though I have lived in Keystone for 24 years, I was ambivalent to the Dibbs proposal of bringing 175 homes on 86 acres. After a very lengthy meeting with the Hillsborough County Commissioners and hearing the Keystone residents speak at the March 7th meeting of the Commissioners, I'm still not sure how many build-able acres were actually part of the Dibbs proposal. I heard 86 acres and then 56 acres. It was very confusing to say the least but as one resident said, "Dibbs is trying to muddy the waters." A brief introduction of what was to be voted on was shared with the public and then the floor was open to 57 citizens who were given their chance to speak for or against what was known as, 16-05 and 16-06. 16-05 and 06 dealt with changing the land from AR-1/5 to R-1, which is Agricultural 1 house per 5 acres to Residential 1 house per 1 acre homesites. Both 16-05 and 16-06 involved the Dibbs property. Residents spoke for almost 2 hours giving their explanations on why they were for or against. Some had videos and some had power point slides, while others had just plain old paper with drawings on it, though most people spoke from the heart. Professional Engineer and local activist, Joe Robinson, explained how this project effects less than 1 percent of the land in Keystone and that the Keystone Community Plan showed that developments are only "discouraged but not prohibited". Tom and Barbara Aderhold, along with Clara Lawhead, local leaders in the Keystone community, spoke against the Dibbs plan.
When the floor was closed, Commissioner Pat Kemp, District 6 immediately spoke against it. She said the project clearly and gravely violated the Comprehensive Plan of Keystone and that the residents had a right to be concerned about the protection of wetlands and the over capacity of schools. She went on to say how the community plan in Lithia Pinecrest was changed and how now the commission struggles to find funds to expand roads. Commissioner Kemp quoted from a 2014 decision by Judge Charlean Honeywell, "According to the plain language of the Keystone-Odessa Community Plan, the vision of the Plan was for the Keystone-Odessa community to continue to be a rural community. The protection of water resources was paramount, given the many lakes, wetlands and rivers in the area. Among the goals was the desire to protect the area from suburban and urban sprawl, maintain ecological balance, and preserve natural areas in residential lot development."
Commissioner Victor Crist, District 2 spoke, he said that Community Plans came into existence in 2001 and they were "meant to be the spirit of the community, what the essence of the community will be." He spoke directly to Mr. Dibbs saying, "I don't fault you for wanting to make a buck. I saw you on several occasions really work this, I saw you change your plans on the fly" Commisioner Crist went on to say, "The spirit is still very alive in this community and for me, the burden of proof is on you. You didn't get this stone up the hil.l" After hearing those words from Commissioner Crist, Mr. Dibbs was of the belief that he had lost.
Commissioner Sandy Murman spoke last and she shined the light of hope on the meeting. "I still believe that there is room to build consensus. I know the residents will accept something from Mr. Dibbs."
The vote was 6 to 1 in favor of a motion to deny well known developer Stephen Dibbs, a property usage and rezoning change for the 321 acres he owns in Odessa. Commissioner Les Miller voted in favor of Dibbs, while all other commissioners voted against. The economic impact to Hillsborough County was projected to be an initial $3 million dollars with a recurring $1million dollars annually. The environmental impact to the Keystone Community outweighed the almighty dollar.