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Creekwood roundabout hits road block in Manatee County

The $6.9 million project is headed toward a deferred list due to lack of funds.

Tom and Diane Carter say the county has told them they will no longer be taking part of their Creekwood backyard to build a roundabout.
Tom and Diane Carter say the county has told them they will no longer be taking part of their Creekwood backyard to build a roundabout.
Photo by Jay Heater
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Thomas Carter knows it isn't completely official, but he and his wife Diane went out to celebrate nonetheless.

The Carters have been in a battle with Manatee County for the past two years about a proposed roundabout on Creekwood Boulevard and 73rd Street East that basically would cut off much of their backyard if constructed.

The roundabout was part of a $6,890,115 Creekwood Boulevard improvement plan to ease traffic concerns at the 52nd Place East intersection with Creekwood that serves the shopping center there. Those using the Creekwood Crossing shopping center have encountered long delays trying to exit the shopping center to turn left onto to Creekwood Boulevard to head to State Road 70. It has created unsafe conditions as motorists dart in front of each other trying to get into traffic.

The idea was to force all traffic out of the shopping center, at that point, to turn right, then proceed to the proposed roundabout at Creekwood and 73rd Street East.

Last week, Carter received a call from Manatee County Commissioner George Kruse who said a county staff report indicated an expanding proposed budget and limited resources forced it to recommend that certain projects be placed on a deferred list, and the Creekwood improvements project was one of them.

Asked for comment from the staff about projects that were being pushed toward a deferred list of projects, Information Outreach Manager Bill Logan sent an email that said, "It is important to note that while deferral has been recommended, nothing has been decided or finalized. At present, there is no list of deferrals. This topic won’t be discussed by the BOCC until Aug 1.

"It is also important to remember that these are still being considered, and regardless of what projects end up on the deferred list, no projects are being cancelled. The intent is for deferred projects to come back in future CIP years."

Kruse, who said he never liked or supported the project, said while that might be true, it is unlikely the project would come back in the next five years, if at all.

Carter is convinced he can now live in peace.

"I don't mind when a county does a project," he said. "But I do mind when they don't do it right."

He did say that Kruse warned him that a commissioner could move to take the project off the cut list, but that is unlikely since the project's main proponent, former Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, has retired.

Carter said many other parcel owners affected by the project "would have a fit" if it was taken off a cut list.

He said county taxpayers also should have a fit if the project comes back.

"The project had gone to 'regulatory takings,'" Carter said. "That means it would be more expensive. With regulatory takings, you can take the cost (of acquiring land) times two. That happens when the project hasn't been done right. And part of that is that the county has to apologize to you."

Under the Fifth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution, a regulatory taking occurs when a landowner is deprived by a government action of economically reasonable use of value of the property. Carter said the county never notified homeowners of the project and instead worked only through the HOA.

Kruse said he recognizes that the stretch of Creekwood Boulevard is a problem area and needs to be addressed, but he said there are solutions other than "cramming it in someplace and encroaching on people's neighborhoods and homes."

He also noted that many other road projects were suggested by the staff to be placed on a deferred list due to lack of funding, such as three intersection improvement plans on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. He said the staff report suggested deferring $38 million in improvements to the planned Lena Road extension and $76 million in improvements to the Lorraine Road widening and improvement project.

Carter said, apparently, the county is not rolling in bucks to do such projects, and that has been good news for him.

He called the county's plan to take part of his backyard to build the roundabout "a land grab."

Carter, a retired Army captain, put together several power point presentations that he sent to the county and he hopes that "tipped the iceberg."

"The county does not like me," he said. "I was a contracting officer in the military. I would have courtmartialed some people if this was my project. They just showed up with some stakes one day and put them on my backyard."

The Carters home has been in the family for 19 years.

Construction on the project originally had a 2024 finish date.



Jay Heater

Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.

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