MANATEE — The site for a new air-traffic control tower at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport quickly landed county approval Thursday, while the smooth sailing continued for Port Manatee’s long-term expansion plans.
Manatee County commissioners approved changing SRQ’s general development plan to allow for the proposed new tower. They also sent portions of the port’s $750 million master plan to the state for its review.
Both unanimous actions came after no one from the public spoke on either item.
Airport officials hope the Federal Aviation Administration will build the new tower between U.S. 41 and Dolphin Aviation, near SRQ’s southwest corner, within the next five years. The proposed 139-foot tower and a related 5,000-square-foot office building would replace an existing tower at the airport’s northeast corner.
SRQ officials said the current tower is obsolete and cramped, and that its removal will open up about 40 acres in the airport’s interior for potential development.
The port’s master plan outlines future goals and projects at Port Manatee through 2050.
It includes $116.5 million in projects planned for the next five years, including expanding a berth, building a cold-storage transfer facility, expanding a container transfer yard, widening Piney Point Road and purchasing a second harbor crane. Later projects include a dedicated container facility north of existing port property, additional berth extensions and a connector road between the port and Interstate 75.
“It’s a blueprint for the future of the port,” said David McDonald, the port’s executive director. “When all that gets developed will be market-driven.”
The plan also incorporates a port encouragement zone that was created in 2008. It offers incentives to nearby property owners who develop their vacant or agricultural land for port-related business.
Parts of the plan were included in a proposed amendment to the county’s comprehensive plan that will be sent to the Florida Department of Community Affairs for review. County officials expect to adopt the amendment next year.