+ Fort Hamer Bridge public comment period closes
An official from the U.S. Coast Guard says he has seen nothing from public comment that would change the conclusion of a draft his agency oversaw that said the proposed Fort Hamer Bridge would be permitted.
The public-comment period on the proposed two-lane bridge — which would connect Fort Hamer Park to Upper Manatee River Road and provide an alternative north-south transportation route between areas east of Interstate 75 — ended Aug. 19.
Comments submitted to the Coast Guard and heard at a public meeting Aug. 7, when the Coast Guard presented a draft of an environmental-impact statement written by the URS Corp. that recommends the bridge be built, will be considered in the final recommendation.
“Nothing that has gotten through the docket would shift the decision that the Fort Hamer Bridge is the most desired and reasonable alternative to meet the project,” said Randy Overton, the Coast Guard project manager who is overseeing the environmental-impact statement (EIS).
URS’s draft statement declared the Fort Hamer Bridge as the most viable north-south bridge alternative compared to two others: expanding the Rye Road Bridge or doing nothing.
Overton said he doesn’t expect the final EIS to be published until mid- to late November.
He also said the Coast Guard cannot issue permits unless the state approves it, a process that will require review by Gov. Rick Scott’s cabinet.
+ Manatee County building fees reduced
As of Oct. 1, more than 50 Manatee County building-permit and inspection fees will be reduced by 10%. The fee reduction comes after a six percent cut in fees was instituted last year.
The fee reduction, approved the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners last week, is part of a rebound in the local economy, commissioners said.
“This set of lowered permit fees is the latest in a long line of customer improvements we’ve made at the Manatee County Building and Development Services Department over the past few years,” said Building Director John Barnott. “The new fees will lower the cost of doing business here while covering staff expenses in the department.”
A state-mandated 3% Florida Building Code Surcharge fee still applies to all permit fees.
+ State won’t sell Lake Manatee State Park land
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection removed a 19.4-acre parcel of land at Lake Manatee State Park from a preliminary list of property for the state to sell as surplus.
State environmental officials had considering selling the land at Lake Manatee State Park as part of a program to buy property deemed to have greater conservation value.
The list includes more than 5,300 acres of land in Florida the state will potentially sell.
Some property on the list generated objections from the public when the DEP held a workshop and webinars on the subject.
Manatee County has said the public does not use the 19.4-acre parcel of land at Lake Manatee State Park — a strip along the far western border on the west side of Dam Road.
The surplus lands list is part of the state’s Florida Forever land-buying program, which Gov. Rick Scott backs.
For the program, lawmakers agreed to put up $20 million in state funding in the new budget and allowed the DEP to generate an additional $50 million through the sale of state-owned land deemed no longer critical to the state’s conservation efforts.
The $70 million will then be used to buy conservation considered more critical to preserve.
The DEP will have a more refined list by October or November. Land at Lake Manatee State Park won’t be on it.
+ Medallion Home-led investment group buys Professional Center property
An investment company, led by Carlos Beruff’s Medallion Home, purchased three building pads on 2.27 acres in the Professional Center at Lakewood Ranch for $825,000.
The price equated to $363,436 per acre.
Fronting Interstate 75 north of University Parkway, the lots sit next to four completed single-story condominium office buildings.
The properties have entitlements for roughly 33,000 square feet of office space each.
“We love the location,” Beruff said. “It’s a short walk to the new mall, so we thought for the long-term it should be a good play. We have no plans for it right now.”
Stan Rutstein of Re/Max Alliance Group represented the seller, an affiliate of Wells Fargo Bank. Wachovia Bank foreclosed on the property in mid-2010 but gave the title to its parent, Wells Fargo Bank.
“It was a good value for the moment with the whole motivation being the performance of Lakewood Ranch and its visibility on I-75,” Rutstein said. “It’s going to be developed, built to suit or sold off.”
The purchase entity I-75 Office Park LLC mortgaged the property to Alejandro Vilarello as trustee of the Marco M. Beruff Irrevocable Trust Agreement for $200,000.
— Sean Roth
Meetings & agendas
• Manatee County Board of County Commissioners Land-use Meeting — 9 a.m. Oct. 3 at the Manatee County Government Administrative Center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton
• Manatee County Board of County Commissioners Meeting — 9 a.m. Oct. 8, at the Manatee County Government Administrative Center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton
• Manatee County Planning Commission Meeting — 9 a.m. Oct. 10, at the Manatee County Government Administrative Center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton
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24 Christmas Eve Family Service
3:30 pm - 5:30 pm
24 Christmas Eve Traditional Service
9:30 pm - 11:30 am
25 Christmas Traditional Service
10:00 pm - 11:30 pm
12 Scramble for SPARCC
Food and fun
The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance and its Young Leaders Alliance have something to talk about: the organizations collected 764 pounds of nonperishable food and $1,295 cash to benefit The Food Bank of Manatee/Meals on Wheels PLUS.
River Club’s Cheryl Kaufman says she’s still pinching herself.
A little “Ho! Ho! Ho!” can go a long way this holiday season.