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East County Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019 2 months ago

Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast plans new vision

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Manatee County commissioners won’t endorse settlement
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Land agency plots its future

The nonprofit land agency that helped Manatee County secure a 32-acre site for a park between the River Club and Braden Woods communities is rethinking its future with help of area residents.

Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast President Christine Johnson said the 16-year-old organization’s strategic plan ends in 2020, and it is evaluating its focus for the next 25 years. Five years ago, the foundation began focusing on protecting watersheds, but it might take a different or expanded focus in the future.

Through meetings with the community, including one Aug. 14 at Courtyard by Marriott at University Town Center, Johnson said stakeholders and community advocates have identified issues including transportation, affordable housing and food insecurity as key concerns.

Johnson said the organization’s board must organize and discuss the information it collected.

“We don’t know what [our role] is going to look like,” she said. “Our board has to sift all through this. We want to be more and more relevant in the community.”

 

Commissioners won’t endorse
settlement

Manatee County commissioners will not endorse a University Park Country Club resident’s attempt to settle a dispute over the formation of the University Park Recreation District, a special taxing district formed to fund the purchase and operations of University Park’s recreational amenities and other developer-owned land.

University Park resident Richard Garrett has opposed the formation of the district with lawsuits against the district itself and against Manatee County. Garrett filed lawsuits against Manatee County on June 21 and July 2. The first alleges its adoption of Ordinance 18-29, the ordinance creating the district Aug. 2, 2018, was capricious and unconstitutional and should be invalidated. The second lawsuit alleges the ordinance provides powers to the recreation district that are greater than those allowed by Florida statute.

Garrett proposed a settlement agreement with Manatee County on Aug. 20 that would have restricted the recreation district’s powers to those defined by certain Florida statutes and limit its taxation powers.

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