Meetings set for neighbors around Braden Woods preserve to learn about possible taxing unit

A 33-acre plot of woods in East Manatee is one step closer to being saved from development and turned into a county park.
A 33-acre plot of woods in East Manatee is one step closer to being saved from development and turned into a county park. Herald file photo

The life of a possible East Manatee preserve is hanging in the balance, depending on whether neighboring residents want to pay a little extra on their taxes.

The Friends of Keep Woods Inc. is close to saving 33 acres that had been poised to become a couple dozen Neal Communities houses nestled between the Braden Woods and River Club developments. The best option they have is to create a municipal services taxing unit, or MSTU, for the nearly 1,400 homeowners in the area to help pay for the $3 million price tag. But the offer from Pat Neal is only on the table until March.

Residents will have three opportunities — on Nov. 5, 9 and 14 — to hear about the proposal and preserve from the group, and three chances to meet with Manatee County officials for additional information.

The suggested millage rate is 0.53, said the group’s president Gary Hebert. That means a homeowner whose home’s appraised value is $100,000 would pay $53 a year, and one whose house has an appraised value of $300,000 would pay $160 a year.

There have been one or two people that expressed disdain for the proposed tax, but Hebert said it didn’t represent the majority.

“We’ve been handing out flyers and distributing yard signs,” Hebert said. “So far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

An additional 11 acres adjacent to the property is also being considered for conservation, but Hebert said it is separate of the MSTU.

Deputy County Administrator Dan Schlandt said the county will hold its own information sessions at the Braden River Library, located at 4915 53rd Ave. E., set for 2:30 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 16.

The following day, the county will mail out postcard ballots with details of what each homeowner would pay annually as well as a yes or no vote .

Hebert noted that it’s important that if homeowners are in favor of saving the preserve, they should fill out the postcard and send it back. For the taxing unit to be approved, they need a 50 percent favorable tally.

“If they do not return the mail-in poll, that counts as a ‘no’,” he said.

Hannah Morse: 941-745-7055, @mannahhorse

Informational meetings

▪ Sunday, Nov. 5 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Linger Lodge, located at 7205 85th St. Ct. E.

▪ Thursday, Nov. 9 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at CaddyShak Sports Bar & Grille, located at 6600 River Club Blvd.

▪ Tuesday, Nov. 14 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Braden River Elementary’s school cafetorium, located at 6125 River Club Blvd.