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East County Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 4 years ago

How Will We Grow? Activity Centers

by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Manatee County planning officials are evaluating development in the community and how to ensure growth pays for the infrastructure improvements — water, sewer and other services — that come along with it.

Zoning and Planning official John Osborne presented his findings from a two-year “How Will We Grow” study at a Manatee County Commission workshop Jan. 15.

County officials now invite the public to weigh in on options for future growth. This article is the third installment in a series taking a close-up look at each of three scenarios that has been presented as an alternative for growth, as well as other related topics being considered.

The third alternative, dubbed “Activity Centers,” focuses growth in four areas of the county, using a mix of uses, employment opportunities and capital-improvement projects to create livable communities.

MANATEE COUNTY — Manatee County’s current Comprehensive Plan and land-development codes are designed to service a large geographic area.

But, as county planners began looking at how to best serve the area, a new idea formed: focusing growth into “activity centers.”

Under Alternative 3 of Manatee County’s “How Will We Grow” proposal, growth is focused into four areas of the county, so more efficiencies can be achieved in terms of county infrastructure, such as sewer and water. These focused areas generally are nodes of exchange — residential, commercial, retail and employment — near residential areas, and promote a mix of uses, employment opportunities, focus on county resources and capital-improvement projects and allow necessary services. They would be designed to include higher densities and taller building heights, as well.

Four areas being considered for major activity centers include: Parrish, the area near Port Manatee, the U.S. 41 corridor and Lakewood Ranch.

“This idea is a common concept in city planning to try to address areas and varying market needs,” Manatee County Planning and Zoning Official John Osborne said. “When you have areas that are under development and have been undergoing the typical low-density development when the market is starting to dictate (higher density), this is a way to capture that market trend in areas. It also helps the local governments better plan for growth.”

Activity centers would vary in types and uses, which would range from intense uses, in which the center would include a mix of residential, industrial, research/development, commercial, civic and other uses, to residential, which would include a variety of housing options, with support uses such as churches and recreational facilities.

Osborne said the areas county staff identified are “potential” locations based on generic criteria, including entitled projects and other factors.

“However, just because it meets that criteria doesn’t mean it’s the right place (for that center),” Osborne said. “We still need to vet these areas with property owners and residents, for refinement.”

Osborne said county officials this week are putting together a public-outreach plan regarding “How Will We Grow?” Additionally, the Urban Land Institute has been retained to evaluate the county’s proposal and provide its expert opinion about proposed concepts.

Those ideas will be presented to the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners March 26. Town Hall-style meetings for public presentations and feedback will follow, and commissioners will be expected to decide on a growth strategy this summer, Osborne said.

Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].

Activity Center Design Concepts
Development would be encouraged using the following principles:

• Mixed-use centers should be designed with universal blocks or connected local streets as much as possible, with standard dimensions that accommodate different types of uses and enable re-use over time.
• Mixed-use developments should have integrated infrastructure, vertical and/or horizontal integration of different land uses and coordinated access.
• Mixed-use centers should promote development planning that encourages site plans to anticipate infill development with future building sites, structured parking, where applicable, and the flexibility to intensify the site at a later date.

Land-use Planning
Activity centers may be any of the following:

• Intense — residential, commercial, industrial, research/development, hotel, civic/public uses, trails and supporting infrastructure will occur
• Moderately intense — residential, commercial, hotel, civic/public uses, trails and supporting infrastructure will occur
• Neighborhood — commercial and professional services and supporting infrastructure will occur
• Residential — areas include a variety of residential products and intensities and residential support uses, such as churches and recreational areas

Dictating Growth
Under this scenario, the county would use fees or incentives pro-rated upon location to encourage growth in certain areas. Proposed development within a proposed activity center would get the most incentives, while projects outside the activity center area may be more expensive to develop.

Manatee County would have to develop a detailed plan for each proposed activity center area to make sure capacities are available and consistent with development timeframes.
— “How Will We Grow?” presentation

Proposed Growth Areas — Major Activity Centers
Parrish has multiple arterial and collector roadways going through or ending near the Village of Parrish, and multiple students have cited the area as a future growth and activity center. An activity center will occur with the development of Parrish Center, Parrish Plantation, Morgan’s Glen and other associated properties at the intersection of Moccasin Wallow Road and U.S. 301.

Port Encouragement Zone
Properties west of I-75 along the north side of Moccasin Wallow Road have development entitlements that include low-density master-planned residential communities. In 2009, however, the county provided a dual entitlement for those properties to develop in a non-residential, port-supporting way, at the option of the developer.

Southwest County
Commercial corridors exist at Cortez Road, U.S. 41 and State Road 70. In this area, it is more difficult to define one area as a primary activity center, however, this alternative reflects the development of Manatee Fruit Co. properties and IMG Academy’s expansion and the positive impacts to U.S. 41 and other Southwest County areas. Target areas are community-redevelopment areas and designated urban infill and redevelopment areas. Infrastructure improvements likely would focus on increasing opportunities for walking, cycling and transit.

Lakewood Ranch
The Lakewood Ranch activity center focuses on the continued development of the Lakewood Centre Development of Regional Impact and other properties. Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch has pushed to have the county’s future land-use map include future activity centers at the southeast corner of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and State Road 64, and property south of State Road 64 and east of Lorraine Road.

This scenario also includes properties not owned by SMR as future activity centers. Those properties include the southeast corner of I-75 and State Road 64, where commercial components are being developed at Heritage Harbour.
— “How Will We Grow” presentation

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