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Intersection site proposed for development in Myakka area

Land owner seeks approvals for commercial development near CR 675/S.R. 70 intersection.

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  • | 8:30 a.m. October 23, 2019
Neighbors Danny Chappell and Ron Hunniford look at a map of the site on which Manatee Ranches wants to place a "country store." They say the site, behind them, should not be developed commercially.
Neighbors Danny Chappell and Ron Hunniford look at a map of the site on which Manatee Ranches wants to place a "country store." They say the site, behind them, should not be developed commercially.
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A triangular property where County Road 675 and State Road 70 intersect just west of Myakka City is where business plans and the will of the residents collide.

There, on the north side of the road, on 1.5 acres between on- and off-ramps, property owner Manatee Ranches Inc. envisions a future country store where nearby residents can pick up milk and household supplies and possibly pump gas for their vehicles.

Property owner Manatee Ranches Inc. is seeking to rezone the land from “general agriculture” to “planned development commercial.” Some of those neighbors, however, say they are happy traveling to town for their needs and would rather see the land stay vacant.

“A convenience store with a possible gas station is not needed,” said William Heine, who lives within a mile of the intersection and passes the site daily. “I don’t ever think, ‘I wish there was a gas station or a convenience store’ in that location as I pass by there. I think my neighbors probably agree. They moved out there to be farther away, and they’re fine with traveling six miles to go to the Wawa, the Shell, all the things on Lorraine Road that are projected to be built. I think the risks far outweigh the rewards of this planned development and rezoning.”

Manatee Ranches partner Tony Veldkamp said Manatee Ranches owned 9,000 acres along the S.R. 70 corridor between three miles west of County Road 675 to Verna Bethany Road. Over the past 26 years, that land was sold for development, which spurred the creation of rural communities, such as Pomello Park, Panther Ridge and Golden Verna Estates. The site is the last parcel owned by Manatee Ranches.

“Manatee Ranches’ vision for the last 26 years has always been a neighborhood country store,” Veldkamp said. “It may or may not have gas pumps. I think it’s a great location.”

Neighbors, however, said they worry about safety at the intersection, possibly contamination of groundwater from gasoline or other materials, noise and light pollution, and increased traffic. Water quality is the top concern.

“I drink the water 200 feet away,” said Danny Chappell, who organized a petition that garnered more than 500 signatures. “Gas pumps fail. Once one major spill happens, you cannot decontaminate the water. Safe drinking water is more important than being able to capitalize on a piece of land.”

Neighbor Ron Hunniford agreed, saying he’s also concerned about what the site could become over time.

“It is a site completely surrounded by homes with the exception of a church,” Hunniford said. “There’s really no reason for the residents in the area to have a gas station or a country store there.”

The Manatee County Planning Commission, a board that advises county commissioners on land-use matters, recommended approval of the plan with a 6-1 vote Oct. 10. 

Planning Commissioner David Roth voted against it.

“I don’t think it’s compatible with the area,” he said.

Manatee Ranches is asking for up to 15,428 square feet of commercial space, and uses including alcoholic beverage establishments, drive-thru establishments, gas pumps, a restaurant, retail sales and neighborhood convenience, business services and a veterinary clinic are allowed under the future zoning.

Manatee Ranches planner Rachel Layton, of ZNS Engineering, said the end user will likely be much smaller. The site is located outside Manatee County’s urban service boundary, which means it will require septic and well, rather than public sewer and water.

 Those requirements will consume much of the land and will ultimately dictate how large a building can fit on the site.

Manatee County commissioners are slated to vote on the rezone during their Nov. 7 land-use meeting.


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