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Hillsborough County zoning counselor Tania Chapela, right, confers with customers at the County Center in downtown Tampa.
Posted August 26, 2016 | 3:32 PM

Zoning Counselors Consider All Options

The goal: Help people make their best case

People want to know what they can do with their properties, and Hillsborough County's zoning counselors are available to help.

The counselors receive an average of about 180 phone calls and emails daily, and meet in-person with about 20 customers. They tell residents and business owners what the Land Development Code allows on their properties in unincorporated Hillsborough County, and help them determine what steps, if any, are needed to comply with County zoning regulations.

Customers ask an array of questions, such as:

  • Am I allowed to park my truck in my driveway?
  • Is a small restaurant or shop permissible on my land?
  • May I build a mother-in-law addition on my house?

Bilingual counselors are available.

Many customers reach out to zoning counselors after their properties are cited for code violations. Their backyard shed is too close to the property line or it encroaches on a utility easement, or the fence they installed is too tall.

Often people buy properties with existing code violations and are not aware of the problems. The zoning counselors work with these customers to seek solutions. Should the customer apply for a variance or request a rezoning? Does a financial hardship qualify them for a fee waiver?

Counselors offer tips to those seeking a variance or rezoning, such as suggesting they find out if neighbors agree with the proposal before the matter goes to a public hearing.
The idea, counselors say, is to educate people about the process so they can make their best case when applying for a land-use change.

For more information about Hillsborough County's land development rules or to speak with a zoning counselor, call (813) 272-5600 or go to the County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., 19th floor, in Tampa. Counselors are available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. 

Photo Information: Hillsborough County zoning counselor Tania Chapela, right, confers with customers.

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