Carrollwood, Florida - In recent weeks, signs objecting to the proposed cemetery popped up on Carrollwood lawns -- well, like gravestones. And public pressure appeared to bury the cemetery proposal at Tuesday's Hillsborough Commission meeting.
"This issue has become a very hot issue," said Commissioner Les Miller Jr., who also noted he had received numerous emails.
Dozens of homeowners wearing white filled commission chamber seats. They objected to the proposed three-acre cemetery, calling it "incompatible" with their well-established neighborhood. Residents worried about increased traffic on narrow Stall Road, falling property values, and some just didn't want their view to be a graveyard.
"They want to put 7,500 bodies in a 3.2 acre area. That is not down-zoning," neighborhood resident Kelly Overfield told commissioners.
Attorneys for the Diocese of St. Petersburg, seeking a zoning change for the cemetery, assured commissioners that burials would not boost traffic and promised that the cemetery would have lush landscaping and buffers.
"This is not a Walmart or a Wawa convenience store," said Church Attorney Michael Horner. "Our client has worked diligently and hard to assure compatibility."
But even though both county staff and a zoning hearing master recommended approving the zoning change, commissioners sided with residents.
"I can't imagine a more inappropriate use than a cemetery on this property," said Commissioner Ken Hagen to applause.
And in a unanimous vote, commissioners killed the cemetery. The church has 30 days to appeal the vote and attorneys and church leaders have not yet decided whether the cemetery plan will be resurrected.