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Board endorses preliminary plan for biomass plant near Port Manatee

MANATEE — A divided advisory board today endorsed a proposed biomass- and solar-energy generating plant near Port Manatee despite a neighbor’s strong opposition.

The Manatee County Planning Commission, in a 5-2 vote, recommended the county rezone 47.9 acres and approve a preliminary site plan for the proposed plant there.

Florida Biomass Energy LLC is planning a 60-megawatt power plant, which would burn primarily wood chips, on the site at U.S. 41 and Armstrong Road. The electricity generated by the plant would be sold to Progress Energy and other electric utilities.

But an attorney for a nearby landowner questioned whether the plant would be as green as its developer said it would be. The landowner, U.S. Funding Group, has filed a legal challenge to a proposed land-use change to allow the plant.

Planning commissioners Mary Sheppard and Marilyn Stasica opposed the rezone, saying they had concerns about its environmental impact, noise and vulnerability to flooding.