State Politics

Ranch ‘green bill’ sails into Fla. Senate

LAKEWOOD RANCH — The proposed Lakewood Ranch Stewardship District bill, which would allow Schroeder Manatee Ranch to finance green technology and infrastructure, has passed the Florida House 120-0 and has been sent to the Senate.

The Senate is expected to vote on the bill next week, said Todd Pokrywa, vice president of planning at SMR.

The bill also would adjust boundaries of the stewardship district to add roughly 200 acres.

“We optimistically anticipate the bill passing the Senate next week,” Pokrywa said.

Such a bill may never have been proposed before, Rex Jensen, SMR’s president and chief executive officer, has said.

“I haven’t heard of one before this,” Jensen said.

In February, the Manatee legislative delegation unanimously approved taking the bill to Tallahassee.

The amendments to the district powers and boundary were also consented to by both the Manatee and Sarasota county commissions in January.

Being able to finance green technology the same way SMR financed infrastructure such as roads and parks in Lakewood Ranch could extend beyond SMR, such as discovering new ways to save energy and new methods for low impact development, Pokrywa said.

“The ability to fund sustainable and green technologies in the continuing development of the master planned community of Lakewood Ranch highlights the unwavering commitment to environmental stewardship over the last century of the property’s ownership as its uses have evolved,” Pokrywa said.

“Lakewood Ranch has been, and continues to be, at the forefront of implementing sustainable practices in all the industries and sectors operating on the property,” Pokrywa added.

The stewardship district is an independent special district that was established by the Legislature a few years ago over the majority of SMR’s undeveloped property.

It’s composed of approximately 23,000 acres in Manatee and Sarasota counties.