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Tampa city council to consider townhome project that would fill part of Tampa Bay

TAMPA — Opposition is mounting to a plan for filling in three acres of a Rocky Point cove to build luxury townhomes, but proponents say they’re confident of approval.

A measure paving the way for the project met with approval a month ago from the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission, but since then, environmental groups have been lobbying City Hall and a nearby neighborhood has launched an online campaign to hire an attorney.

City staff has recommended that Tampa City Council members reject the measure, a land-use amendment, when it comes before them June 28. Mayor Bob Buckhorn also said he opposes the project.

"It’s a horrendous precedent to be filling in part of our bay, that we’re trying to clean up and maintain," said Mary Keith, president of the Tampa Chapter of the Audubon Society. In a letter to the city, Audubon’s state advocacy director warned the move would create a "destructive" precedent that would "spawn copy cat" dredge and fill projects around the state.

No private developer has filled in the waters around Tampa Bay for at least 20 years, planning officials said. The practice created neighborhoods like Snell Isles in St. Petersburg and Tampa’s Davis Islands but had largely ended by the 1970s after state and federal laws cracked down on the practice.