EAST MANATEE -- There are an estimated 1,500 horses in Manatee County, many of them "out east" of Bradenton and Palmetto.
Michael Bailey thinks there are enough horses in the Myakka City area to warrant opening a 3,328-square-foot business to be called The Hay Barn at 2660 Verna Bethany Road.
Plans for The Hay Barn, which would include a feed store and horse boarding, were recently submitted to Manatee County building and development services.
The Hay Barn would be on 5 acres at the southwest corner of State Road 64 and Verna Bethany Road,
"It's a supply-and demand thing. Right now the prices of hay are through the roof," Bailey said this week.
Bailey, a 46-year-old disabled veteran who served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, said he would bring hay from Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky to sell at affordable prices in Manatee County.
"There are plenty of horses. I know the market is here. I have plenty of people who say they will come and buy the hay," Bailey said.
Bailey purchased the Verna Bethany Road property, about a mile from a fish camp on Lake Manatee, in February for $65,000 from Robert Evans Safford, according to the Manatee County Property Appraiser's website.
The entrance to the property would be from Verna Bethany Road. The property is zoned for agricultural uses.
Bailey plans to focus primarily on equine species, and will not be selling hay for cattle.
Manatee County staff has until May 20 to comment on the proposal to bring The Hay Barn to Myakka City, according to Barney Salmon, principal planner for the project.
Assuming he gets the approvals he needs, Bailey said construction of The Hay Barn could possibly start within a month of getting his permits.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.