Manatee County Land Development Code rewrite is workshop topic this week

skennedy@bradenton.comMarch 4, 2014 

MANATEE -- Rewriting Manatee County's Land Development Code will be front and center Tuesday as the Manatee County Commission reviews proposed changes.

Commissioners will be joined by their advisory body, the Manatee County Planning Commission, for four joint workshops beginning at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday and continuing every day through Friday at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, One Haben Blvd., Palmetto.

The Land Development Code comprises more than 1,000 pages of regulations dating to 1991. The LDC governs how land is developed in unincorporated areas of Manatee County.

"We will have two large screens at the civic center," said Bob Schmitt, county planning section manager. "One will be the new code on one side, the other side will show the existing code."

Each workshop will be open to the public with an opportunity for public comment every day, according to Nick Azzara, county information

outreach coordinator.

The sessions will be televised and rebroadcast on MGA, and on the county's YouTube channel, he said.

The first revisions primarily serve to reorganize and clean up inconsistencies within the huge document, Schmitt said.

Changes in the second phase will include more substantive revisions as part of a separate public discussion later, Azzara said.

The rewrite should not serve to encourage inappropriate development and short-term economic gain at the expense of long-term environmental protection, said Glenn Compton, chairman of the environmental group ManaSota-88.

"Manatee County's ability to remain an attractive place to live and work is directly related to its ability to preserve its natural resources," he said. "This is not a plan that manages growth, it is a plan that allows for land speculation and encourages growth."

The second phase is also designed to incorporate changes consistent with planners' "How Will We Grow" effort to create a blueprint for how the county should grow through 2035, officials have said. "It's a tricky thing to do -- it's a big document," said Schmitt. "We took this as an opportunity to clean up and organize, so it'll make more sense when we get to revisions in Phase II."

County planners are also rethinking the county Comprehensive Plan, which guides development.

Consultants from Littlejohn Engineering Associates of Orlando are helping rewrite the document as part of a $78,000 contract.

Feedback from the March workshops will be included as part of a final draft of phase I changes to be reviewed by the county attorney's office, and then by the county commission for final consideration later this year, Azzara said.

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

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