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East County Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 10 months ago

Braden River Preserve advances

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County Commission calls March public hearing to consider forming a special taxing district.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

The majority of homeowners in the Braden Woods and River Club communities are willing to tax themselves to create a 32-acre preserve, which they want to call Braden River Preserve, between their neighborhoods.

Now, the Manatee County commission must decide if that’s enough. 

The land at the western end of Clubhouse Drive is slated for development by Neal Communities and there is a March 31 deadline by which the land could be purchased for preservation.

Commissioners on Jan. 23 voted unanimously to schedule a March 6 public hearing to create a special taxing district, called a municipal services taxing unit (MSTU), to fund the roughly $3 million purchase of the land. Homeowners in River Club and Braden Woods would pay that amount through property assessments over the next 30 years, if the MSTU is approved.

Results from a county-initiated poll of both neighborhoods showed 674 homeowners in support of the MSTU, 455 opposed and 311 who did not respond. The figure fell short of the staff-recommended 50% criteria (721 minimum votes), but proponents of the park submitted 66 notarized substitute ballots in favor of the tax that the board members considered.

“We did this (poll) to try to get a feel from whether there’s support,” Commissioner Betsy Benac said. “From what I hear, there is support for it.”

Commissioner Vanessa Baugh agreed. 

“The way I see it, we have 740 responses that tell me they want this park,” Baugh said. 

At the March 6 public hearing, the commission again will take public comment on the MSTU itself, its boundaries and other specifics of the project. 

Under the current proposal, homeowners within the MSTU would fund the purchase of the land, but Manatee County would invest some money for infrastructure improvements, such as a pavilion, and fund maintenance of the facility.

The preserve would be open to the public, not just to residents of Braden Woods and River Club.

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