EAST COUNTY — Manatee County administrators hope revisions to the county’s Land Development Code will make Manatee County an easier place to do business.
The first phase of revisions to the Manatee County LDC — a document written in 1989 — have been posted to the county’s website for public comment.
Manatee County Planning Division Manager Bob Schmitt says these changes are largely superficial.
They change verbage and organization and make the LDC document easier to navigate and implement.
But, taken together with second-phase changes — revisions that will be presented at a later date to incorporate the county’s “How Will We Grow” plan — the new code will set a path to a modern-day Manatee County.
“The first-phase changes put the LDC in 21st century terms,” Schmitt said. “It still talks about service stations, instead of what we know as gas stations. In one place, the code will say one thing, and, in another, it will say just the opposite. And the way the code is written today, a lot of things people want to know are buried in rules and regulations.”
Schmitt said in the past, changes to the LDC have been piecemeal rather than aggressively restructured.
For nearly a year, Manatee County has worked with a contractor, Littlejohn Engineering Associates, to make the changes.
One significant change, meant to quicken the site-approval process, eliminates a rule that required developers to submit a site plan for a building they wish to assume if the structure has been vacant for more than one year.
The second-phase changes must wait for amendments to the county’s comprehensive plan that would come with the How Will We Grow plan.
“The changes that we’ve made already involve things we can address without having to amend the comprehensive plan,” said Schmitt, a Lakewood Ranch resident. “It is not earth-shattering stuff. It won’t change the big picture in East County at all.”
The first-phase revisions set the table for more wholesale changes, which will address concerns from county staff that the LDC in its current form deters redevelopment and discourages economic development.
“When it’s over, we will have a modern-day land development plan,” Schmitt said. “There is a lot of character in Manatee County. Just because Lakewood Ranch looks a certain way and is successful doesn’t mean another area wants to be Lakewood Ranch. Each different place can be what they want to be.”
The public can comment on the first changes to the LDC until Dec. 23.
Comments should be directed to Schmitt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Schmitt says all changes will then be reviewed at public workshops before the Board of County Commissioners votes on them.
Contact Josh Siegel at email@example.com.