Tourist taxes will help rebuild the Anna Maria pier and acquire a Lakewood Ranch sports complex, Manatee County commissioners unanimously voted Thursday.
The damaged nearly 100-year-old pier requires an expected $3.2 million to repair after Hurricane Irma destroyed it. Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that the Tourist Development Council approved a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $1.5 million to go toward pier fixes, but the restaurant won’t be a part of this renovation.
“It’s a great investment. It’s a wise investment,” said Anna Maria Mayor Dan Murphy. “I can promise you that we’re going to build a world-class pier that you’ll be proud to go to and will attract our visitors.”
Schroeder-Manatee Ranch officials indicated they are interested in selling Premier Sports Campus, 5895 Post Blvd., for $5.3 million by the end of this year. It boasts 23 grass fields, a 3,200-seat stadium and many buildings on a 127-acre property worth $20 million.
The Tourist Development Council gave its blessing for $3.2 million for the sports complex and $800,000 for a multipurpose facility and permanent restrooms. Deputy County Administrator Dan Schlandt said this funding would be acquired through an interfund loan. The rest of acquisition would be funded through park impact fees.
Although the sports complex’s revenue stream was in the red, Falcione said that they were looking into additional revenue sources from food and drinks and saw an advantage in hiring those who already worked at the sports complex.
“We’re going to learn a lot in a year,” Falcione said.
Commissioners also approved by a vote of 6 to 1 a rezone of the Myara subdivision, which was presented just in case nearby residents vote not to implement a municipal services taxing unit. Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who represents the area where the proposed project resides, dissented.
“I represent the people, and the people have made it very loud and clear that they’re trying to buy this property and I just don’t feel that I should in any way not stand by the majority of people in my district,” Baugh told the Bradenton Herald.
The Myara project proposes 32 houses in a private and gated community clustered on a 33-acre property south of Braden Woods and west of River Club with nearly 70 percent open space. But a group of residents called Friends of Keep Woods who want to protect the land and turn it into a county park are gauging their neighbors’ interest in buying the property.
As of Thursday afternoon, the county had received 429 surveys supporting the taxing unit and 308 against it. Residents have until Jan. 10 to return their completed surveys to the county.
If approved by at least 50 percent support, a taxing unit made up of about 1,400 residents in the area would collect fees in order to pay for the $3 million price tag. Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast is also helping to raise money for the property.
A community meeting will be held at the CaddyShak Sports Bar & Grille, located at 6600 River Club Blvd., at 7 p.m. on Dec. 12 for residents to learn more about the project and the taxing unit.
Also during Thursday’s land use meeting, commissioners:
▪ Unanimously passed the local development agreement for Aqua by the Bay. Although the development’s approval is subject of a lawsuit against the county, Long Bar Pointe LLLP’s attorney Ed Vogler said, “The challenge doesn’t stop anything.”
▪ Unanimously approved a revision to the Land Development Code as it relates to impact fees, adjusting previously suggested changes. so that the appeal process will go through the board of county commissioners rather than a hearing officer and removed an erroneous $2,000 fee.
▪ Approved by a vote of 5 to 2 a general development plan for a 105-acre 55-plus community called Coventry Park off of Erie Road, with Commissioners Priscilla Whisenant Trace and Charles Smith dissenting. The two commissioners were concerned about stormwater drainage and sidewalks.