Public comment period extended on Manatee Land Development Code

skennedy@bradenton.comDecember 18, 2013 

MANATEE -- After complaints from the public, the Manatee County Commission extended the comment period Tuesday through Jan. 31 for the rewrite of the Land Development Code.

"December 23 is a bad time to stop comments," complained Mary Sheppard, an environmentalist and former member of the Manatee County Planning Commission, referring to the last day of the original 60-day comment period.

Sandra Ripberger, representing the Manatee Sierra Club, also sought more time for comment on the first phase of the rewritten Land Development Code, which implements the county Comprehensive Plan.

The rewritten version did not show changes in the

text clearly when viewed online, she said.

"It was very hard to tell what the changes were," she told commissioners during a meeting at County Administrative Center.

Originally, the public comment period was to last from Oct. 22-Dec. 23, but now it will last through the end of January, the commission agreed.

Residents may review the first phase of the rewrite, which implements the county Comprehensive Plan, on the Manatee County website.

Already, the rewrite has generated varied correspondence: fire marshals concerned about fire regulations; community groups inquiring about cell tower rules; and people asking how the changes will affect wetlands preservation.

Former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash said it is unfair to expect quality comments on such a complex document without having a county representative meet to review the changes during the comment time frame.

"Most people do not have a working knowledge of the LDC to be able to compare what was in the old versus the rewrite," McClash wrote. "There are sections where the language has been totally removed and not incorporated back into this new code. This is not what was represented to take place."

Also seeking to meet with a county official about environmental resources was Rosalie Shaffer of the Natural Resources Committee of the League of Women Voters.

The first revisions primarily reorganizes and cleans up inconsistencies within the huge document, adds user-friendly items and streamlines for easier administration, said Pat Tyjeski, senior planner for the Orlando office of Littlejohn Engineering Associates Inc.

Her consulting firm was hired as part of a $78,000 contract to review the document and recommend changes.

A second phase of revisions will be presented later to incorporate changes consistent with "How Will We Grow," the planners' effort to create a blueprint for how the county should develop through 2035. County planners are also rethinking the Comprehensive Plan itself, officials have said.

Comments will be made part of the public record for consideration at future public hearings, officials have said. The online version is located at mymanatee.org/.Email comments to robert.schmitt@mymanatee.org, or mail to Manatee Board of County Commissioners, P.O. Box 1000, Bradenton FL 34206-1000; 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton 34205.

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

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