Urban Service Area – An efficient growth management tool

slider-urbanserviceareaWhat is the Urban Service Area?

The Urban Service Area (USA) is more than just a boundary on a map, it’s a strategy that gets more bang for the buck on your tax dollars by focusing new growth and redevelopment and concentrating public and private investments where services are available and will be most needed. Over the next 20 years, growth will be focused in areas with sufficient existing or planned services like roads, water, drainage and schools, libraries, parks – and multi-modal transportation choices. By guiding growth to be predominately in the USA, we create more livable and desirable communities within the major urban activity centers, while also preserving the suburban and rural lifestyles and our numerous environmental and agricultural assets.

What do the USA goals achieve?

The Urban Service Area allows local government to maximize infrastructure investments within a boundary where services are available and will be most needed as growth continues. This focused growth strategy minimizes costly urban sprawl and is reinforced in the goals of the USA:

  • Provide a choice of urban, suburban, and rural living options in Hillsborough County
  • Provide fiscally responsible infrastructure, such as roads, schools, public safety, etc.
  • Preserve environmentally sensitive land
  • Encourage redevelopment of already developed areas with existing infrastructure
  • Encourage infill with higher density development
  • Encourage mixed use development that makes it easy for people to walk, bike or use transit

Why is the USA important?

Hillsborough County will grow to 1.8 million residents by the year 2040 with over 1.1 million jobs. This rapid population and jobs growth will create a huge demand for the development of new homes and infrastructure services, as well as retail, commercial, and industrial land uses. With limited funding available, how will local government face the challenge of providing the roads, schools, parks, water, sewer, police, fire, storm drainage, etc., needed to accommodate both current residents and this increased demand? The USA is a tool to guide expected growth to meet these high demands in the most cost effective manner for the taxpayers while maintaining or even improving on our quality of life.

A vision for the future of Hillsborough County

Imagine Hillsborough 2040, a survey conducted in 2013 of Hillsborough County citizens, reflects the desire for the County to embrace more compact development as we grow. Survey results helped create a vision with a pattern of clustered growth within the Urban Service Area boundary, with a strong emphasis on redevelopment and infill.

A foundation on which to build

In 1993, at the recommendation of the Planning Commission, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners adopted the Urban Service Area as part of the County’s long-range comprehensive plan.

Hillsborough County continues to identify priority development areas and provide incentives to maximize existing services in support of cost effective growth. This approach reinforces the goals of the USA growth management tool, but also will help determine when and where any adjustments to the boundary should be considered.

Enhancing quality of life and protecting choices

Since 1993, the Urban Service Area has helped maintain a high quality of life. As more people come to Hillsborough County to live, work, and play, the USA is a tool to help manage the cost of growth and protect the Hillsborough County’s rich environmental and agricultural resources. The quality of life is measured by many things such as the availability of appropriate levels of libraries, drinking water, parks, schools, roads, police, fire and other services needed to support a growing population. With the support of USA in the comprehensive plan, the freedom of residents to choose a variety of settings – rural, urban and suburban – is maintained.

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