Despite pleas against increasing the traffic that zooms down Honore Avenue, Manatee County commissioners decided in a close vote to move forward the consideration of a possible development west of Evers Reservoir.
The board voted 4-3 Thursday to transmit the plan to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity for review. Commissioners Betsy Benac, Steve Jonsson, Priscilla Trace and Carol Whitmore voted in favor. Commissioners Vanessa Baugh, Robin DiSabatino and Charles Smith cast the dissenting votes. Commissioners will have the final say on the rezone in December.
A major point of contention of the proposed rezone of the unwanted 200 acres owned by the city of Bradenton was traffic. Many residents of nearby neighborhoods said that many people who take Honore to Lockwood Ridge Road or University Parkway often do not follow the speed limit.
“Honore is a funnel for traffic and it’s a dangerous condition that we live with,” said Francis Kenny, a resident of the Riverbend community. About a dozen others showed up to the land use meeting to echo his concerns.
According to a traffic study, the proposed development could create 391 cars on Honore during evening peak hours, with most of them heading westbound. But it “should not create adverse conditions,” the report read.
One option was to open up Natalie Way, which currently services the West Winds mobile home park and spills onto State Road 70, for a new north-south route. But in a 2005 agreement that commissioners recently learned of, the county relinquished part of the right of way to Natalie Way to the city in order to acquire land that eventually would become Honore Avenue.
DiSabatino indicated that the county would not have agreed to the stipulations if they knew the land would eventually become a development.
Assistant County Attorney Sarah Schenk said the board has legislative authority to change the agreement, but it might open them up to contractual litigation.
The city of Bradenton, which owns the property, no longer had a need for the 200 acres because it settled on a 64-acre parcel adjacent to the water treatment plant to construct underground water storage.
“We were running on parallel paths,” city administrator Carl Callahan said, when the city looked at both aquifer storage and recovery, or ASR, or above-ground storage. The technology with the ASR made more sense, Callahan said.
The city intends on selling the property worth $10.5 million to Taylor Morrison, which hopes to construct between 350 and 400 homes. The only thing that stands in the way is the zoning.
The land had at one time been zoned as residential that allows six lots per acre, but was eventually rezoned as public/semi-public.
Bradenton City Council member Patrick Roff spoke during public comment, saying that he would like for the city to use the funds received from the sale to improve aging sidewalks.
“What’s good for me is good for you,” he said. “What’s good for you is good for me.”
Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston quickly followed up to add a disclaimer that these were the views of Councilman Roff and not of the city.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, commissioners:
▪ Unanimously moved to reopen the quasi-judicial hearing for a proposed “boatel” called Blu Harbor along U.S. 41. There had been a recommended motion to deny the preliminary site plan in June, but the applicant Gulfside Homes/Bowlees Creek LLP stated in October that they had additional testimony to present. If commissioners did not allow the applicant to present this information, Schenk said there could possibly be litigation.
▪ Unanimously approved an ordinance adoption for Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc., to change future land use map requirements, and approved changes to an ordinance and general development plan regarding the Northwest Sector, a 1,500-acre mixed use development north of State Road 70 and east of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard for commercial, development and park space.
▪ Held the first of two public hearings regarding proposed changes to the land development code on wording regarding impact fees, which will be voted on in December.