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Manatee commission OK's ice rink's sign, MTI campus

MANATEE — County commissioners moved closer to ending one controversy but might have opened the door to another today.

Commissioners approved a site plan for the proposed Manatee Technical Institute campus at State Road 70 and Caruso Road. They also approved a “mega-sign” along Interstate 75 for the Ellenton Ice & Sports Complex.

The approval of the 215,000-square foot school was the final step needed to settle a court case between the county and school board.

School officials initially wanted to build the MTI campus on the north side of Braden River High School, which drew vocal opposition from neighboring residents. The issue ended up in court, with school officials later deciding to build the campus on 30 acres south of the high school.

Commissioners were split in approving the ice rink’s new sign, which will be the largest sign in the county. The sign will have an 880-square-foot area for digital messages and another 224-square-foot logo sign. It will replace the facility’s existing sign, which measures 131 square feet.

Some commissioners opposed the size of the replacement sign, saying it could beget others and shouldn’t be approved until the county’s sign ordinance is updated. But supporters said the sign’s design is tasteful, won’t spawn copycats and is needed so drivers can see it better.

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