June 2020 – Michele Ogilvie’s first day of work at the Planning Commission was December 17, 1986. The Tampa section was very busy completing the Zoning Conformance public hearings of South Tampa, East Tampa, and notices for the North Tampa hearings, to be distributed the first week of the New Year. The agency was also preparing the Comprehensive Plans that would comply with the new Growth Management Act in Chapter 163.
The agency was also under attack, as the County Commission was not pleased with recommendations coming before them. Staff turnover was a common occurrence and reorganizations took place monthly. Michele made a deal with herself that within six months, she would find a job that would appeal more to her need to help people. The irony is that after 33 and a half years at the Planning Commission, that is exactly what she has been able to do.
Over the years, Michele has worked with developers who have changed the face of Tampa with their vision of better, neighborhood groups who wanted to preserve the peace and safety of their families, and lawyers conducting due diligence for their clients. Her proudest moment during her early years was recommending inconsistency to the new technology of a cell tower between two homes in a neighborhood where residents thought there was no hope. That recommendation led to the recognition of one of Tampa’s older African American settlements known as Dobyville, an area where zoning in the 1950s had been designated for industrial use and not residential. She will always remember the night the Planning Commission supported the neighborhood, and the deciding commissioner stated that he would vote with his heart and not his head. A few years later, staff were able to identify and recommend other areas of the city for a proper designation that allowed other homeowners to have dignity in the value and equity of their homes, even when there was influential opposition.
She was amazed by the willingness of neighbors to work with the agency despite great anger and fear to create the first neighborhood plan in Tampa Heights and in Sulphur Springs working with children and having United Way commit to investing in that community. Other highlights during her career were the Livable City Plan where staff had to create a second tier of community participants, because so many wanted to be included in the creation of that document, receiving the endorsement of the Tampa Homeowners Association of Neighborhoods, and the State’s cooperation in restructuring the format of the Plan.
In her last 10 years with the MPO/Transportation Team, she worked with the City of Tampa to create five Walk Bike Plans that support the Livable City form of the Comprehensive Plan. Michele has been working with the grassroots movement, the Green Artery, to institutionalizing that vision of a connected city. She has made a huge impact by participating in the Healthiest Cities and Counties challenge and winning a grant to support Community Gardens.
“The years have been very busy, the accomplishments would mean nothing were it not for the wonderful, generous and loving people I have met along the way, my coworkers and friends and the kind and accepting residents of Tampa and Hillsborough County. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to serve, and I hope I did some good along the way. Ciao.” –Michele Ogilvie
Thank you, Michele, for your big heart, huge smile, contagious laugh, and all the good you did along the way. Wishing you tremendous happiness and peace in your retirement.