Manatee planners OK commercial zone at SR 70 over protests

dgraham@bradenton.comJuly 12, 2013 

MYAKKA CITY -- By a 5-2 vote, the Manatee County Planning Commission approved rezoning property Thursday at the corner of State Road 70 and Verna Bethany Road from agricultural to commercial -- despite objections from nearby residents.

Most objections came from residents of Golden Verna Estates, a rural subdivision platted in 1926.

Complaints centered around the introduction of commercial zoning into the agricultural area, plus traffic and safety worries along State Road 70.

More than 20 neighbors signed in at a July meeting held by Misty Servia, planning department manager for King Engineering, representing property owner Tom Howze. "The 1926 plat shows warehousing and a rail yard for our site," Servia said. "We believe small commercial uses are more appropriate and will help provide a transition from SR 70 back to the existing residential uses.

"It will be scaled appropriately and be compatible. Our goals are to maintain that rural residential character."

Servia said the developer agreed to build a school bus stop shelter for students, too.

Other adjustments include moving any structures as close as possible to the highway, providing fencing and landscaping with a wide buffer behind the commercial area, and restricting signage. A stipulation was also added restricting business hours and deliveries to the property to between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.

"We believe rezoning of the property will have a significantly negative impact on the quality of life in our otherwise quiet, well-maintained and family oriented neighborhood," wrote neighbors Harry, Lori and Krystal Rose in a letter of objection.

"We bought out in the country. We like dark skies," said resident James Taylor. "This will not fit into our neighborhood. It is incompatible."

Commission Chairman Richard Bedford voted against the zoning change.

"I think it's a round peg in a square hole," he said. "I'm completely against it. I don't see enough infrastructure in place to support a commercial endeavor. It's simply rezoning and it's going to be some time before it's viable."

However, Commissioner George Mendez said development is inevitable.

"With due respect to homeowners, I can appreciate the fact they live in a rural area and they want to maintain that," Mendez said. "If you think a piece of property on SR 70 is going to remain open and undeveloped, it's not going to happen. The time is going to come when this is going to be a major thoroughfare across the state. I have to tell you this as one planning commissioner in favor of this project."

Dee Graham, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, or tweet @DeeGrahamBH.

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