Manatee officials work to simplify land development process

skennedy@bradenton.comMarch 5, 2014 

PALMETTO -- County officials continued Tuesday going line by line through proposed revisions of the Land Development Code in an effort to render it more user-friendly.

The Manatee County Commission and its advisory board, the Manatee County Planning Commission, met in a joint session to consider changes in the huge document, which governs all development and use of land in unincorporated Manatee County.

"We're trying to simplify the process as much as we can," said John Barnott, director of Manatee County Building and Development Services, at the outset of the first of four workshops slated through Friday at the Bradenton Area Convention Center.

County Commissioner Betsy Benac, a former county planner, pointed out several discrepancies and text redundancies, which were flagged for closer study.

Benac said she was frustrated because "so much fear in the community without basis" meant the process required two steps instead of one.

Barnott said the intent was to slow down and take a step back in order to get a cleaner development document.

Only a handful of citizens attended the workshop, which focused on the first phase of the rewrite -- mostly reorganizations and updates, according to county consultant Pat Tyjeski.

The goal was also clarity, she added: "We tried to make it straight to the point."

For instance, the term "manufactured home" will be replaced by "mobile home," according to Bob Schmitt, county planning section manager.

"Mobile homes sit on a

chassis and have a license plate," said Schmitt, who is overseeing the rewrite. "It's a licensed vehicle. In a modular building, we don't see any difference than a brick or wood home. It's a prefab building that can sit on a foundation."

Jim Kaiser, representing the Federation of Manatee County Community Associations, said he attended to hear about covenants affecting homeowner associations.

After the first phase of the rewrite is complete, substantive changes in the code such as environmental matters, will be reviewed during a second phase, officials said.

The workshop session reconvenes at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and is open to the public.

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

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