Manatee County planning officials are evaluating how development occurs in the community and how to best ensure growth pays for the infrastructure improvements — water, sewer and other services — that come along with it.
Zoning and Planning official John Osborne presented his findings from a two-year ‘How Will We Grow’ study at a Manatee County Commission workshop Jan. 15.
County officials now are inviting the public to weigh in on options for future growth. This article is the second installment in a series taking a close-up look at each of three scenarios that has been presented as an alternatives for growth, as well as other related topics being considered.
The second alternative, dubbed ‘Southwest County Focus,’ puts the bulk of Manatee County’s future population in an area generally west of Interstate 75 and south of the Manatee River.
MANATEE COUNTY — As Manatee County officials look at options for guiding growth in the county, the area known as “Southwest County” has come to the forefront of discussions.
The area is typically defined as the unincorporated area south of the Manatee River but only extends east to the CSX rail line, which runs parallel to U.S. 301. But under Manatee’s “How Will We Grow?” presentation, which is being brought before the public for discussion, the second option, called “Southwest County Focus,” extends that urban core area to focus on all unincorporated lands south of the Manatee River and west of Interstate 75.
This alternative places 60% of the county’s future population growth into this Southwest County area.
New development in Southwest County, however, primarily would occur on property Manatee Fruit Co. owns in west Bradenton.
“The advantages (of this plan) are we have the infrastructure already in place for the majority of it,” Manatee County Planning and Zoning official John Osborne said. “There are already schools in the area. There’s a tremendous roadway network already built. Roads connect to something; (they) can absorb a tremendous amount of more development.”
Many roads in Lakewood Ranch or Parrish, for example, are not grid-like in design, and also are built to serve specific communities, rather than the area at large.
“The modern development practice is there’s a gated community and there’s one way in and out. It serves that community,” Osborne said. “In Southwest County, the roads (are set up) in a grid. There’re a lot of redundancies in that. It provides a lot of advantages for infrastructure efficiency. You are basically expanding on existing systems.”
Osborne said the “Southwest County Focus” scenario was examined because there has been interest in redevelopment of Manatee County’s urban core. The area’s infrastructure, including sewer and water lines, were primarily built in the 1950s and 1960s and will need to be replaced soon, as well. This has led county officials to consider how to best use dollars for infrastructure.
Although Southwest County would be ideal for redevelopment, the task may prove challenging because many areas within Southwest County are not completely built out; there generally is low market activity; larger properties in the U.S. 41 vicinity would require development of existing properties; and lands in the U.S. 301 corridor are intermixed with industrial properties, making residential development largely undesirable.
Osborne, however, noted the expected 2035 population for this area could be reached with existing projects on file in the county’s concurrency reservation system.
Osborne said redevelopment in Southwest County will be more time-consuming and more challenging from an engineering perspective because so much of the area already is developed. Manatee County government will have to modify its level of service standards and create incentives to encourage development in the area.
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
Manatee County planners envision, under the Southwest County Focus concept, there will be continued focus on redevelopment of vacant and underutilized parcels, both with residential, but most likely non-residential units.
The focus of new population (labor) will bring more residents closer to the industrial- and main-employment center of the county, which has more than 1,000 acres of vacant lands with a future land-use classification of industrial in the Southwest County.
— “How Will We Grow” presentation
Attributes of southwest county
• Broad range of housing
types and values
• Bulk of population
• Commercial strip
• Employment base
• Existing developed areas
• Existing schools
• Existing services
• Grid roadway system
• Shopping and entertainment
• Some neighborhoods
at end of life cycle
• Transit service
• Waterfront properties