A note from Melissa Zornitta
Commitment to our mission and our community

As this is the first Beyond Today since I have begun serving as the Planning Commission Executive Director,  I wanted to take a moment to share a little bit about myself and my philosophy about planning for Hillsborough County.


I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the Planning Commission.  Having worked here for close to 14 years, I truly believe in the mission articulated by the Planning Commission last year in their Strategic Plan:


"The Planning Commission promotes, coordinates, and facilitates the involvement of all people in the long range planning and vision for our community to improve economic development, quality of life, and provide value-added services." 


Our agency is in a unique position to develop plans addressing community-wide issues - issues that transcend jurisdictional boundaries.  At the same time, it is critical that we provide valuable service to the four jurisdictions and the community as a whole and that all sectors of our community truly view us as a collaborative partners.


I also serve as the current President of the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association. This gives me a unique vantage point on planning issues across the state. I'm often proud at our meetings to see how Tampa Bay is leading on economic and community development across the state. Not unlike others across the state, we still have many opportunities for improvement. At APA Florida's recent Public Policy Workshop, there was a robust discussion about many of the challenges facing our state and local communities (what I identified as the major planning challenge for 2015 is pictured below). I am confident serving as APA Florida President will enhance my ability to stay on top of best practices and great ideas from throughout the state to better help our community.    




When asked during the interview process about what I value most, the top of my list is my family.  I have twin daughters and a wonderful, supportive husband who mean the world to me.  Having my children and raising them here in Hillsborough County has renewed my passion for planning for our future. By building upon the amazing assets we have in Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City, and Hillsborough County - the reasons we all love living here, from the Bay and its wildlife to the strawberries and our beautiful neighborhoods, we can grow a legacy for all of our children.  It is my hope that our plans support creating thriving communities filled with choices - types of places to live; ways to get around; education and employment; and cultural and recreational opportunities. If we are successful in achieving this type of quality of life, my girls will love living here as much as I do.


I look forward to working with all of you, as we strive to achieve the Planning Commission's mission and plan for an even brighter future for our neighborhoods and our region.




Want to learn about the MPO's new Executive Director, Beth Alden? Check out the MPO's Rubber Meets the Road eNewsletter and the Tampa Tribune.  


Thinking on our feet...
Standing up for better health and sharper focus

Recently, My Fox Tampa Bay stopped by the Planning Commission to take a look at our Varidesks, allowing many of us to stand up for better health and more focus at our jobs.
Sitting is Killing You, according to a September 2014 article in TIME. But the health benefits are only part of this equation.

Yes, many Planning Commission staff have embraced their standing desks for better posture, circulation, and calorie burn, but we also are feeling more productive and focused. "There's an energy boost you get from standing more and slouching less," said Lionel Fuentes, Planning Commission Network Administrator. "I love my standing desk and stand for most of the day now." The Varidesk is a retrofit adjustable platform that sits on top of our existing desks, allowing us to work from either a standing or a sitting position.

View the video and read the FOX 13 story

Hillsborough County launches online monthly building reports
New site provides open access to building permit data


Hillsborough County Development Services recently launched a new web feature that provides customers better access to tracking residential and commercial building permit activity. The online report is published monthly as part of an effort to drive economic development initiatives as well as ensure transparency and accountability.


In Hillsborough County, a building permit is required when any owner, authorized agent, or contractor desires to erect, construct, alter, repair, move, improve, convert, or demolish any building or structure. In December 2014, the county issued approximately 3,323 building permits with a valuation of more than $139 million.


For more information, call 813/272-5600 or access the site at: HillsboroughCounty.org/MonthlyPermits


GO Hillsborough wants your voice
Creating a community transportation plan


Since mid-February, the GO Hillsborough team has been hosting a series of 36 open house style workshops in or near your neighborhood to:


  • understand your transportation needs and realities
  • explore options that make sense in your daily life
  • help you weigh in on some hard choices as we move forward


Each session is designed to be highly participatory and interactive and will build upon the previous one. Citizens are invited to any and all of these meetings. Each meeting will have a "catchup kiosk" for those of you who may be unable to attend or just need a reminder about the discussions and complex issues that surround transportation. RSVP for upcoming meetings. Also, join GO Hillsborough on Facebook and Twitter to share your ideas. There's even a specially designed I-Neighborhood Project App, where you can pinpoint your comments anytime. In addition, there are four upcoming telephone town hall meetings, or leave a comment 24/7 at 813/274-6922.   



The GO Hillsborough team has expertise in all modes of transportation, but no preconceived notions or plans for Hillsborough County; rather they are working with citizens to create recommendations that reflect consensus around a COMMUNITY TRANSPORTATION PLAN that you can support and help implement - a plan that will make a positive difference in your life. GO Hillsborough is the part of the Transportation for Economic Development (TED) initiative, led by all seven Hillsborough County Commissioners, the mayors of Plant City, Tampa and Temple Terrace, as well as the chair of the HART board, and referred to as the Policy Leadership Group. These elected leaders have come together to study, develop, and create consensus around a comprehensive community mobility plan that ensures continued quality of life and economic prosperity now and well into the future.


Thank you for our All Star award!
We are a 2014 Constant Contact All Star Award Winner!

For the third consecutive year, the Hillsborough MPO / Planning Commission have been named an All Star Award winner by Constant Contact®, Inc., the trusted marketing advisor to more than 600,000 small organizations worldwide. The award, given annually to the top 10% of Constant Contact's international customer base, recognizes these select businesses and nonprofits for their significant achievements leveraging online marketing tools to engage their customer base and drive success for their organization.

Thank you to all of our subscribers who continue to read and share our news, surveys and events. We can't make plans without you! 
Issue 22 | February 2015
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