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East County Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013 5 years ago

County may change its growth strategy

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

MANATEE COUNTY — Manatee County planning officials are ready to set the pace for future development — a pace that may yield higher-density, urban areas that will capitalize on existing infrastructure.

During a joint workshop between the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners and the Manatee County Planning Commission Jan. 15, Planning and Zoning official John Osborne revealed findings of a two-year “How Will We Grow?” project meant to take the county out of reactionary-planning mode, to capitalize on existing county assets and to deal with new employment, demographic and housing trends.

“This study has really caused the county to think in a different way,” Osborne said. “Providing a variety of options is what we’re really about.”

Manatee County will begin scheduling meetings with the public for discussion on future growth, based on the findings of the study. No dates have been set.

The three, future-growth alternatives being considered include: using current development patterns but making changes to allow greater building heights in certain areas and transit-oriented development; focusing on southwest Manatee County for development by placing 60% of the future population in unincorporated lands south of the Manatee River and west of I-75, but primarily on or near Manatee Fruit Co. property; and creating four “activity centers,” or places that attract individuals for a wide area for purposes such as education, shopping, government, entertainment and health care, thus allowing for greater service efficiencies and more urban designs. Activity Center areas would include Parrish, the port area, the U.S. 41 corridor and Lakewood Ranch.

Other overall planning strategies are being considered, as well.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

+ County considers new funding options
In the coming months, Manatee County officials also will consider options for diversifying the county’s revenue sources by shifting the focus from property-tax revenues to a broader base of payers.

Currently, 60% of Manatee County’s budget revenues comes from property taxes.

Revenue-neutral options include using franchise fees on utilities and using a stormwater utility fee, which would cover the costs of the county’s stormwater runoff systems.

With the stormwater fee appearing on the tax bill, garbage assessment also would move from a resident’s monthly utility bill to his property tax bill, allowing the county to reduce bad debt and provide incentives for paying bills early while also providing a way for users to “turn off” billing, seasonally.

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