Port bypass road construction pushed to 2017, or never

mjohnson@bradenton.comJune 24, 2014 

Port Manatee has responsibility for building half-mile bypass road

PORT MANATEE -- A fuel logistics and storage company that owns property adjacent to Port Manatee is delaying the construction of a road that would, if built, cost the port hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Under a court order, the roughly half-mile paved road is the port's responsibility, even though the land to which it would provide egress is privately owned. It would give Vecenergy access to about 240 acres of industrial land it owns south of port property.

The land currently can only be accessed from inside the port's security perimeter.

The land's previous owner, the Reeder family, sued the port to have the bypass road built. The court sided with the Reeder family. However, the land sold to Vecenergy in 2006, and the Reeders never pressed the port to build the road. Now, Vecenergy holds the right to demand that the road be built.

Last week, Vecenergy, a subsidiary of West Palm Beach-based Vecellio Group, and the Manatee County Port Authority agreed to amend the litigation, extending the port's commitment to the road to 2017. Without the amendment, the court settlement could have required the port to build the road within the next year.

Richard Vogel, director of Vecenergy's environmental and regulatory affairs, said that because the company has yet to develop its property, it has no present need for the bypass. He said it may never need to be built, as the port expects to move its South Dock Street security checkpoint to a new location that would give Vecenergy direct access outside the security perimeter.

Half the acreage is permitted for industrial use. Vogel said Vecenergy plans to build warehouses, petroleum storage or other leasable facilities on the property.

Port Executive Director Carlos Buqueras said it no changes may be necessary. Since the intended use of the land is for facilities that support port business, Buqueras said, it may be desirable to maintain a checkpoint to monitor access to the property.

The port and Vecenergy are co-marketing part of the property.

Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter@MattAtBradenton.

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