By B.C. Manion
Kenneth Malphurs and his wife, Freda, have been living on their spacious property at 17116 Hanna Road for more than 30 years.
It’s a peaceful place, with a huge backyard, a collection of trees and a pond. The couple enjoys a sense of serenity on its 2-acre plot and wants to keep it.
But now they’re worried that a soccer and futsal academy that is proposed behind them would destroy the tranquility that they enjoy and would disturb their neighborhood’s quality of life.
They plan to raise their objections at a 6 p.m. rezoning hearing Oct. 17 at Fred B. Karl County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd. in downtown Tampa.
The rezoning is being requested by Jean M. Guillen and Charles B. Robinson.
It would allow a soccer academy at 17202 Hanna Road, a 20-acre site on the west side of Hanna Road, about a mile south of Sunset Lane.
The academy would provide instruction and practice to children ranging in age from 6-15 and would function as a local nonprofit organization, according to documents filed with Hillsborough County.
In addition to teaching soccer skills, the academy would also focus on introducing children to positive traits such as self-reliance, self-worth and respect toward others, the document says.
The plans call for playing soccer on outdoor fields and playing futsal indoors. Futsal is similar to soccer, but has just five players on each team, has a smaller playing area and has some different rules.
“The proposed soccer academy will have minimal impacts to the environment, transportation, drainage and infrastructure, and other community resources,” the application states.
It also notes the proposed use would have fewer impacts than would be caused by the single-family uses that are allowed under current zoning.
No outdoor lights or overnight camps or dormitories are proposed, and the academy would operate at nonpeak hours, according to the application. At maximum use, there would be 42 players on the outdoor fields and 24 players in the indoor facility, the application states.
No new buildings are planned on the site, except for a small restroom and concession stand, the application states. An existing metal structure would be converted into the futsal facility.
Robinson said he and Guillen are trying to meet a community need. They want to provide youths a place to learn to play soccer so they’ll have a wholesome place to go.
He thinks the children most likely to use the facility would come from New Tampa, Lutz and Wesley Chapel.
He thinks the use will have minimal impacts on area residents.
Kenneth has his doubts.
He’s concerned that the development could increase potential for flooding in an area that has flooded in the past.
He’s also worried about potential environmental problems.
“When he fertilizes all of those fields, all of that runoff is going to go to 13 Mile Creek,” Kenneth said.
Area traffic is likely to increase and parking could become a problem, too, especially when there are tournaments, he added.
“Where are you going to park that many people?” his wife, Freda, asked.
Kenneth has some other concerns, too.
He shares a pond with the applicants and is worried that children attending soccer games may wander off and get into the pond, where they could drown.
Kenneth said he’s also killed two water moccasins.
“We think there might be an alligator out there,” Freda added.
“When you have three fields going with tournaments — say you’ve got 300 people, how can you control where they go?” Kenneth said.
Robinson said the most recent version of the rezoning application calls for building a 6-foot fence to keep people away from the pond.
Kenneth also questions how this kind of use can be consistent with the community’s comprehensive plan, when the area is clearly residential.
“We have no objections to progress in Lutz,” Kenneth said. “We don’t.”
“Reasonable progress,” Freda added.
Kenneth worries about what will happen if the application is approved.
“Why do you want to disrupt a community, that’s residential, single-family?” he asked.
“Where’s my peace and quiet?”
But Robinson said his facility would meet an important community need.
“We’re not trying to overrun people’s rights to peace and property,” Robinson said. “At the same time, we’re part of a community.”