Palmetto commissioners to vote on brownfield resolution

nwilliams@bradenton.comNovember 30, 2012 

PALMETTO -- Palmetto City Commissioners will decide Monday whether or not to adopt a resolution that will designate a portion of the Community Redevelopment Agency district as a brownfield area.

If adopted, the area, which will be called the Palmetto Economic Enhancement District, could spur economic growth through commercial and residential redevelopment.

A brownfield is land previously used for industrial or commercial activity that is available for reuse.

Administered by the Florida Department of Environment Protection, the brownfield redevelopment program assists in the development of properties that may have environmental issues as a result of past uses, such as agricultural or industrial. The program would make property owners in the brownfield eligible for grants, tax credits and other benefits. It will also lure private investment to the area.

"The reason we're doing this is to add new incentives we in the city can't offer," said Jeff Burton, director of the Palmetto CRA. "This makes redevelopment much easier."

The designated area consists mainly of downtown Palmetto, with the bulk of the district planned along 17th Street W. between 11th Ave. W. and Canal Road. The area does not include Riviera Dunes and only three property owners have asked to be exempt from the district.

"So far, we've had a very good response," he said.

Burton said the district would be used to attract retail businesses, restaurants, manufacturers and housing developers, all of which would be eligible for incentives through the program. The amount of the incentives, according to Burton, would depend on the investment into the property.

The CRA has been working on the proposal for nearly a year and a brownfield district gives the city ammunition when recruiting private investment.

"It would help with possibilities for getting grants to help improve the area," said Brian Williams, Ward 3 commissioner and vice mayor of Palmetto. "Everything we've

seen shows it's an outstanding opportunity to get business and help improve their position. If they want to sell, it makes it more marketable. It helps with making sure if they want to improve area, they have outside sources."

There will be a second public hearing during the commission meeting before the commission can vote to adopt the resolution. Two public hearings must be held on the resolution before it can be voted on, per the program's rules.

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. inside the city commission chambers, 516 8th Ave. W.

Williams said such a resolution sends a message to residents that growth is a priority.

"It says we're examining all sources of resource to help residents and the commercial growth of Palmetto,"

Also Monday, the CRA board will decide whether to award a $50,000 storefront grant to Manatee County Rural Health Services. The CRA sometimes funds a portion of the cost for exterior, nonstructural improvements to commercial properties that contribute to the aesthetic appeal of Palmetto.

Manatee Rural Health recently purchased the Bank of America building at 700 Eighth Ave. W. to expand its administrative services by 80 people.

"That's the largest grant we've had in a while," Burton said. "It will bring jobs, restaurants are fuller, gas stations are fuller and grocery stores get more traffic. Its important for the CRA because it maintains sustainability."

Nick Williams, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411 ext. 7049. Twitter:@_1NickWilliams

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