In a narrow 3-2 vote on Monday, Palmetto city commissioners approved a conceptual development plan for a proposed seven story, 150-unit residential highrise off Haben Boulevard, directly across from the Manatee School for the Arts.
Maryland-based Riviera West LLC, with local offices in Sarasota, purchased the 6.28 acres in at the peak of the housing market in 2006 for $4.2 million. According to the Manatee County Property Appraiser’s website, the land was most recently valued at $777,730. Riviera West was approved in 2006 for 60 units consisting of three-story town homes.
The prior approval guaranteed the developer the 60 units, but the increase in density and change to the original conceptual design required the project to come back through the planning process.
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City planner Debra Woithe recommended approval of the new conceptual plan, noting that the city’s comprehensive plan calls for diversified housing in that area of the city.
“I do see it as an appropriate place for this type of development,” said Woithe, who noted the setbacks, proposed landscaping and open space requirements have been met or exceeded in the conceptual design.
I find this to be too intense and too aggressive for this site. I will not be supporting this.
Palmetto Commissioner Tambra Varnadore before a failed attempt to deny the project
Commissioners Brian Williams and Tambra Varnadore opposed allowing the developer more than the original 60 units.
“Although you do have similar tall buildings, you also have a mobile home park on one side, residential and businesses that are one story,” said Varnadore. “I find this to be too intense and too aggressive for this site. I will not be supporting this.”
Varnadore’s moved to deny the project, but was unsuccessful. Commissioners Jonathan Davis, Tamara Cornwell and Vice Mayor Harold Smith voted in support.
Traffic concerns were high, particularly with it being across from the school. Rachel Layton, planner with ZNS Engineering, said two traffic studies were completed and found Haben Boulevard would operate at an acceptable level. A left-hand turn lane also will be added for easier access into the site.
The Manatee County School District estimates the addition of 24 additional students to local schools, as a result of the project, of which four to five would be high school students. The report notes that Palmetto High School is already over capacity and that the developer would likely pay about $264,000 in school district impact fees, and potentially an additional $30,000 for each estimated high school student.
Stipulations in the approval include ensuring the school district’s requirements are met and that the developer bring a final site plan before the commission within three years. However, Layton said the property is currently being marketed and hopes to have a final site plan to the city “within a year.”