Manatee commissioners OK RaceTrac plans despite pleas from neighbors

skennedy@bradenton.comMay 21, 2014 

MANATEE -- Despite pleas from those who live nearby in a historic neighborhood, the Manatee County Commission OK'd a preliminary site plan Tuesday for a RaceTrac gas station and convenience store.

The board voted 6-1, with County Commissioner Robin DiSabatino against, to approve the project at the northeast corner of U.S. 41 and Pearl Avenue.

Commission Chairman Larry Bustle and Commissioners John Chappie, Carol Whitmore, Vanessa Baugh, Betsy Benac and Michael Gallen all voted in favor.

Neighbors complained it would bring noise, light pollution and aggravate traffic congestion.

"All I can say is, aesthetically, I don't want this big RaceTrac in my community," said Mary Sutton.

Commissioners said previous approvals granted for the site years ago were far

worse than the plans considered Tuesday.

Mark Barnebey, representing applicants SLD-Sarasota LP (Joseph H. Harman) and Bonus Properties Inc., said his clients had already made many concessions to assuage neighbors.

"We want to be an integral part of the revitalization of this neighborhood," he said.

The project on a 2.08-acre site calls for a 5,928-square-foot convenience store with eight gas pumps and an 8,773-square-foot canopy.

In other action, commissioners OK'd a $12.5 million energy savings project, which calls for construction of a new "chiller plant" in downtown Bradenton to cool government and privately owned buildings.

The Manatee County Administration Building and Central Library are expected to reap energy cost savings, officials said.

Florida Power & Light Co. will partner with the county on the project. The chiller plant will be built on county-owned land north of Bradenton's U.S. Post Office at 824 Manatee Ave. W.. It will be pump chilled water through underground piping system to cool buildings up to a mile away.

The project calls for a variety of energy-saving improvements and maintenance to help pay for it, officials said.

Possible clients could be the city of Bradenton and SunTrust Bank, said Charlie Bishop, county director of property management.

The commission also OK'd $450,000 to repair the roof and fix leaky windows at the county Emergency Operations Center at its Public Safety Center, 2101 47th Terrace E., where the county emergency management staff is housed.

The roof does not leak but has developed a "moisture issue" under the surface, county documents said.

Because the roof constructed in 2006-07 is still under warranty, general contractor Balfour Beatty and the roofing sub-contractor Sutter Roofing, agreed to assist in the remediation, they said.

Balfour Beatty has offered $40,000 to help with the cost, they documents said.

The county is still negotiating with the building designer HOK, said County Attorney Mickey Palmer.

All three firms denied responsibility for the problem, Palmer said.

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

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