Neighbors to oppose county plan for Tallevast transit depot

skennedy@bradenton.comDecember 11, 2012 

MANATEE -- Manatee County commissioners are once again slated to consider a land purchase of almost 38 acres for a new county transit depot, which a neighborhood group is vowing to oppose.

The plan to buy the property is again on today's commission agenda after Tallevast residents won a delay on the matter last month.

The board delayed action after residents and a neighborhood group representing them, Family Oriented Community United Strong Inc., asked for more time because they were in court for a case against defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp.

The trial ended Nov. 30 with a jury awarding the neighborhood group a $3 million judgment, stipulating $1,725,000 was for past economic loss, and $1,275,000 for future economic loss, according to U.S. District Court documents.

At issue was whether the company had a valid contract with FOCUS to pay for consultants and monitoring of the cleanup of hazardous substances found in the area, said FOCUS' attorney Jeanne Marie Zokovitch Paben.

"The judge issued a ruling it was a valid contract, and Lockheed Martin had breached it," Zokovitch Paben said Monday.

FOCUS President Laura Ward expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the trial, but said the group would contin

ue to oppose construction of a new transit facility in the Tallevast area.

"We've had enough of an impact, with the contamination of the land, at this point," Ward said.

The neighborhood group and the company have been at odds for years over the cleanup of hazardous substances where a beryllium plant was located at 1600 Tallevast Road.

"We are disappointed that the U.S. District Court in Tampa ruled that there was a legal contract between the Tallevast citizens group, FOCUS, and Lockheed Martin concerning agreement to pay monies directly to the group for environmental and administrative support," said Gary Cambre, a spokesman for the company. "Lockheed Martin has continued to pay a third-party environmental consultant directly to provide services to FOCUS. We are considering our legal options."

Manatee County Area Transit has outgrown its facilities at 1108 26th Ave. E., and the 37.71-acre site is under consideration for relocation of MCAT facilities, according to county documents.

The property, priced at $4,520,000, is located at the intersection of U.S. 301 and Tallevast Road.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.com.

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