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Judges to hear Walbridge hockey arena challenge

LAKEWOOD RANCH — A hearing is set today in Lakeland which could decide if Schroeder-Manatee Ranch can begin resurrecting the unfinished hockey arena it recently bought at a foreclosure sale.

Construction firm Walbridge Aldinger, the contractor for the arena project, is seeking to overturn Circuit Judge Paul Logan’s decision to grant SMR a summary judgment last year and deny Walbridge’s request to have its second arena lien jumped over SMR’s first lien.

Walbridge’s appeal is slated to be presented to a three-judge panel at 9:30 a.m. today in the state Court of Appeals.

“Typically, the judge will listen to both sides and say, ‘Thanks, we’ll notify you later,’” said Dan Perka, SMR’s chief counsel.

Perka, who expects a two-week wait for the judge’s written opinion, said work on the arena is in limbo until the legal matter is resolved.

In other Lakewood Ranch news:

n District 5 officials in Country Club have been waiting to turn its potable water system over to Manatee County to save costs.

But before the county will take it, it wants roughly 20 district residents to trim vegetation from around their water meters.

Those District 5 residents recently received letters from Town Hall explaining they had 10 days to meet the county ordinance on water meter clearance — roughly three-feet of cleared space around the meter — or the district will cut the vegetation to get the process moving, said Lakewood Ranch operations director Ryan Heise.

District 5 supervisor Dave Emison, who lives in Riviera, is one of the homeowners who got a letter and decided to cut his own clearance this past weekend.

“I would tell our residents to take care of it so we can get the system turned over,” Emison said.

However, Emison’s meter and those of his neighbors are read electronically and the meter reader can gather the needed information without leaving the driver’s seat of their vehicles, Emison said.

n Greenbrook’s new six-hoop basketball court in Adventure Park has become so popular that supervisors had to recently adopt rules of play.

Among the rules: actual games must consist of at least four players. Players must share the courts unless games are in progress and any player waiting will take on the winners of the first game. If there are not enough players waiting to make a team, the losing players will shoot free-throws to fill out the team. Town Hall officials indicated that a second basketball court may even be considered in the future.

n With District 1 meetings often heated due to its consideration of a cell phone tower, the district recently adopted new rules for its meetings. From now on, public comments will be allowed only during designated points on the agenda. No speaker will be recognized to speak a second time until all others wishing to speak have been given an opportunity to speak. All speakers must be recognized by the chairperson prior to speaking, announce their name and neighborhood for the record and direct their comments to the board or board members.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 708-7917.

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