Manatee County Planning Commission recommended approval of a commercial rezone. Commissioners will decide Thursday.
Some Myakka City residents said the process that could lead to rezoning of “the triangle,” a 1.54-acre parcel of land near the northeast corner of State Road 70 and County Road 675, has been frustrating.
A couple of small signs advertising public hearings were placed about 10 yards or more from C.R. 675. Otherwise, the main notice for possible rezoning came when residents who live within 500 feet of the property were invited to a Zoom meeting to discuss possible development in November.
“Do you think that 500 feet in a rural area is a sufficient amount of notice and participation?” Myakka City resident Carol Felts said. “I’m not 500 feet from my neighbor. I’m on 10 acres of land. My neighbor is on 500.”
Manatee County commissioners will decide whether to rezone “the triangle” from general agriculture to neighborhood commercial small at an April 1 land use meeting. The property is owned by Tom Brown of Manatee Ranches.
The Manatee County Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of the rezone 4-1 on March 11. Jedd Heap dissented, citing discussion about traffic and safety concerns. Bill Smock and Paul Rutledge were absent.
Manatee County commissioners unanimously denied a request to rezone the property from general agriculture to planned development commercial in March 2020. That plan included a 12,000-square-foot commercial building. In November 2019, Tony Veldkamp, who was representing Manatee Ranches, said the property owners intended to build a “neighborhood country store” that would sell general items, such as milk and supplies, and have a few gas pumps to service the area.
The commissioners said that rezone was not consistent with the rural agriculture zoning of the surrounding area, adding that commercial development at the site needed to be limited to 3,000 square feet and serve the needs of the local agricultural community.
ZNS Engineering Planning Director Rachel Layton said there is not yet an intended use for the property, but some of the possibilities Manatee Ranches is considering include a restaurant, convenience store, retail store, bank, car wash, clinic, dry cleaner, funeral chapel, office building and veterinary clinic. Manatee Ranches could also apply for a special permit to build gas pumps, a service station or vehicle repair facility, all of which would require a public hearing.
Layton said there are very few commercial businesses that serve the local community within a five-mile radius of the proposed site. Felts said the community doesn’t need any more commercial businesses. She also said the community has fought against the project before and will do so again.
“675 does have services,” Felts said. “There is nobody on 675 or 70 in that area that is going without.”
Other concerns from Myakka City residents include safety, traffic and nature conservation. Residents say gopher tortoises, which are classified as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, live in the forested area of “the triangle.”
Additionally, the intersection is known as a dangerous one in Myakka City because of a heavy volume of speeders and semi-trucks. Residents are particularly concerned about the safety of children if commercial development brought even more traffic to the area, especially considering there is a bus stop at nearby 77th Avenue, located at the north end of “the triangle.”
“Imagine an 8-year-old crossing to get a candy bar, especially on a foggy morning,” Myakka City resident Liz Arnold said.
“Or an older person pulling in (from across S.R. 70) to get gas,” Myakka City resident Heidi Minihkeim said.
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