BRADENTON - A church's effort to provide housing for some of its parishioners received the blessing, with stipulations, of the City Council on Wednesday.
Pastor John Marlow, its minister for 49 years, said the church needed a variance. It does not offer homeless services and won't be soliciting homeless people, he said, but he said he's trying to place the people from his church in available homes that the church owns.
"We do have some elderly people there," he said, but some of the people work. They have to subscribe to what the church is doing, he said. Marlow added that the church is accepting no federal or state funds for its operations.
Councilman Bemis Smith noted that none of the neighbors objected to the plan, and Deputy Police Chief William Tokajer said the police had never been called to the location. "They've been good neighbors," Smith said.
The church was out of compliance for years but unaware because it was not out soliciting the homeless, but Marlow said he wanted to comply.
The council voted unanimously on the special use amendment, with seven stipulations, including work on parking spaces, provision of two 18-foot drive aisles between parking spaces, an assessment of the houses to ensure the proper separation of uses, a drive aisle on the westernmost entrance, landscaping, no more than 26 living units and the church must comply on time or the permission will be withdrawn unless the city agrees to give more time.
Also Wednesday, the Bradenton Fire Department said it was being offered $15,000 by the county for the department's tabletop practice for a disaster. The council voted 5-0 to accept the money.
"As a result of planning efforts between the city of Bradenton and Manatee County, the County's Emergency Management Division has been able to extend a portion of their Homeland Security Training and Exercise Grant funds to assist the city's emergency planning efforts," Fire Department program administrator Rebecca Pilsbury said in a press release. "Although not mandated, the city of Bradenton has taken on the good business practice of developing Continuity of Operations (COOP) plans to support city service delivery in the event of an interruption from a natural or manmade disaster.
"In an effort to test the effectiveness of the plans, the city will be working with a consultant firm to design and execute a tabletop exercise with approximately 50 city department leaders and representatives. The goal is to evaluate the written plans against a scenario in an effort to find opportunities to improve the plan which in turn will support the citizens of the city."
In the consent agenda on Wednesday, the council voted 5-0 to approve an Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant Application and granted a one-year extension for the Cedarwood/Magnolia Lakes development.
The council also approved, after a hearing and despite the staff's recommended denial, a request by Tractor Supply Co. to allow an outdoor display of riding mowers and power equipment on the sidewalk at its State Road 64 East site.
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