Manatee commissioners vote to keep Whitfield Avenue speed limit unchanged
MANATEE -- Palm Aire residents -- almost all wearing red -- filled the Manatee County Commission chambers Tuesday afternoon to voice objections to increasing the speed limit on Whitfield Avenue from Lockwood Ridge Road to University Parkway.
Commissioners listened to about 40 speakers of the 200 people in attendance before voting to keep the speed limit on Whitfield Avenue at 30 mph.
"I never received so many emails and phone calls from people that are concerned than Palm Aire," said Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who represents Palm Aire. "We don't need to mess with Whitfield. ... I don't want to change their lifestyle. They moved there for that lifestyle. From my district, I can't see changing anything and affecting anyone's lifestyles at this point."
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Whitfield Avenue was one of 12 county roads where speed limit changes were considered during a three-hour discussion during a five-hour meeting.
The commission voted to take no action on an ordinance to remove Whitfield Avenue, Tara Boulevard and El Conquistador Parkway from the list of roadways designated for golf carts. The discussion will be continued at future meeting.
"You just can't look at people and tell them that they have to change their lifestyles," Baugh said. "You just can't change that Florida lifestyle."
Commissioner John Chappie said they "encouraged and allowed the development of these golf cart friendly communities."
"We are negatively affecting the way of life they bought into," he said.
The large standing room only crowd meant residents were directed to the fourth floor of the county administration building where an overflow room was set up.
Ed Kornberger, president of the Palm Aire Country Club, organized a bus for members to attend the meeting.
"Nothing is more important than these issues to the future of our organization and to our community," he said. "Nothing is more important than what we are doing here today."
County staff conducted a "traffic analysis of major thoroughfares countywide for consistency of speed limits," according to agenda materials. The commission discussed the proposed changes at a work session in May.
Signs reflecting the new speed limits approved Tuesday should be posted within the next month, according to county staff.
Speed limits changes on the following roads:
Golf Course Road from Fort Hamer Road to Rye Road: Posted speed limits of 30 mph and 40 mph go to 40 mph.
Chin Road from U.S. 301 to Old Tampa Road: Posted speed limit of 30 mph to 40 mph.
Lockwood Ridge Road from University Parkway to State Road 70: Posted speed limit uniform at 40 mph from limit range of 35 mph to 45 mph.
Lorraine Road from State Road 70 to University Parkway: Keep speed limit at 35 mph.
Lakewood Ranch Boulevard from University Parkway to State Road 70: Keep speed limit at 35 mph.
University Parkway from Interstate 75 to Lorraine Road: Keep speed limit at 45 mph.
Whitfield Avenue from Lockwood Ridge Road to University Parkway: Keep speed limit at 30 mph.
Honore Avenue between University Parkway to Lockwood Ridge Road: Change speed limit of 35 mph to 40 mph or 35 mph at certain sections.
63rd Avenue East from Lockwood Ridge Road to U.S. 301: Change speed limits of 35 and 40 mph to all 40 mph.
75th Street West from Manatee Avenue West to 53rd Avenue West: Keep speed limit at 40 mph and 45 mph between Manatee Avenue and Cortez Road and 50 mph between Cortez Road to 53rd Avenue West.
El Conquistador Parkway between 53rd Avenue West and 34th Street West: Increase to 40 mph from 53rd Avenue West to Legends Boulevard and keep speed at 30 mph from Legends Boulevard to 34th Street West.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.