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Commissioners OK moving forward on 13th Street transit station


BRADENTON - A plan to convert part of a street in downtown Bradenton into a central station for buses inched forward Tuesday.

Map of proposed bus station site

County commissioners voted 6-0 on a plan to use the west side of 13th Street West between Sixth and Eighth Avenues West for a transit mall, over the protests of Patricia Petra, the attorney for some business owners on the street.

It's been seven years since a study showed that a downtown bus stop was a central point for many riders, and that a station would be an asset, and time is running out to use the grant to create a central bus facility.

The most recent attempt, using land owned by Harry Bakker just south of Eighth Avenue West, fell through because of disagreements over the price of the land, with Bakker wanting $1 million but being willing to settle for $875,000. The county decided that was too much and in consultation with the city of Bradenton decided to move forward on the 13th Street West site.

The commissioners seemed determined to move forward on that site, though there was some concern about whether the Bradenton City Council was on board.

"We have very limited funding and that's probably going to be a very crucial decision here," said Commissioner Donna Hayes. "This has been going on forever, trying to find a location for the transit center. I think it's about time we do make a decision. I think we're closer to making a decision. I would like to wait until the city of Bradenton has its council meeting."

"I think the city of Bradenton is waiting on us and we're waiting on them," said Commission Chairman Dr. Gwendolyn Brown. "Which means we're nowhere. You got to do one or the other. You got to swim or sink."

But County Administrator Ed Hunzeker said he met with Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston and that Poston, his staff and Hunzeker's staff had talked about the issue and that Poston was behind the 13th Street site.

Bradenton City Councilman Patrick Roff said the city's planning staff really needed to be at the meeting. "From what I understand, either site is compatible," he said.

Commissioner Ron Getman noted that they wouldn't have to buy any land to convert 13th Avenue West. "I move we approve 13th Avenue," Getman said, and Hayes seconded it.

County Commissioner Larry Bustle said it would only be fair to give property owners a say in the discussions if the 13th Street site was picked, "and hopefully be satisfied in the design that is brought forth," he said. "I would think that it would be possible to influence the design such that future uses on either side of 13th Street would be accompanied, and I'd like to include that as a stipulation."

Ultimately, Brown said, the city of Bradenton will have overall approval of the design.

Representing the property owners on 13th Street West, Patricia Petruff said she hated to throw in a monkey wrench in the whole proceeding, but that the owners on either side of that street have private and public rights because it's a right of way that's part of a platted subdivision dating to 1912.

"The right of way is held in trust for the public by the city of Bradenton," she said. "While it is true that a local government has the right to regulate traffic within a right of way, and yes you could turn the entire street into a one-way street, if that was required for the regulation of traffic, and if that was required for the traffic circulation, the plans to take away half of the right of way for a dedicated transit land and bus facility, in my opinion, goes beyond what the right of way was originally planned for."

The city cannot provide the county with permission to use that part of the right of way in that manner, Petruff said. "It seems as if since buses are vehicles on wheels, everyone thinks that it is all right to put a transit facility within the right of way," she said. "I don't think it is a proper use."

At present, there are no driveways at the Bank of America property and the other properties, but there are no driveways prohibited, so that a permit could be issued, but of course if the transit facility is built, there could not be driveways there, she said.

The area will not be able to develop, she said. And the design showed by Ralf Heseler, the county's transit manager, would also impact the fire lanes on the street and threaten the safety of workers at the office building.

"We don't believe that this is good planning," she said, and said she wasn't advocating the purchase of Bakker's property. "All that you are doing is moving a problem from 12th Street, where it is adjacent to public land and public property, to 13th Street, where you are causing an impact, and possibly an adverse impact, to private property.

"I understand you've been looking a long time," she said. "But I urge you to do a standalone facility on a piece of property owned by the county where it can be a beautiful asset to our community."

County Attorney Tedd Williams said that he'd have to research the issue on the right of way issue, and that the vote would not affect his ability to do the research.

Landfill moves forward

The county commissioners voted 6-0 to approve an ordinance amending the comprehensive plan to allow a Class III landfill in Duette, just about on the Manatee-Hillsborough County line.

David Green, the senior manager of market development for Waste Management, said his company wants to be a good corporate citizen and that he felt withdrawing the application on the Reeder property near the port was a good decision, and that the site they have now is the best place. "We're ready to move forward," he said, noting that the landfill will be an economic engine that will create jobs and generate business in an area where the economy is stagnant.

In addition, he said, the company would help the Duette schoolhouse, which received an extension until the end of the school day Dec. 18.

"From what I've heard, they are true to their word," said Duette resident Pat Carlton, who lives on County Road 39 near the site. "It's a good opportunity for Duette. I am in the construction business and hope it will create jobs and opportunity in the community. You hate to see things change, but things change."

Another landowner, Louis Brignoni, said that he felt it would provide needed jobs in the community. "I don't see how this is going bad. I think it's a win-win situation," he said. "They're going to provide a ton of money and jobs for the county, and we need it."

But Ethel Hammer, representing Six L's Farm, which is next to the site in Hillsborough County, said that the state Department of Community Affairs' objections to the site had not been fully addressed, the county wasn't following the rules on public hearings for text amendments and that the landfill was incompatible with agricultural operations and could affect food safety.

Sarah Schenk of the county attorney's office said the county is in compliance on the text amendments, and said the argument on food safety was speculation.

Getman said they should move forward on the request. "We asked them to put this facility away from the populated area, and they did it," he said. "If it deserves to be anywhere, it deserves to be there."

More power to the area

An ordinance for Florida Biomass Energy to amend the comprehensive plan to build a powerplant that would use only biomass and not coal or petroleum passed 6-0 on Tuesday.

The site is located in the Port Encouragement Zone, and most of the stipulations that the Department of Community Affairs listed dealt with the environment and had to state that the facility would not be fired by coal or oil.

Petruff, representing the applicant, FB Energy, said that DCA comments were favorable and that the government agencies had not comments. There will be air emissions, she said, but they would be lower than the type of emissions from a fuel facility.

"Approval of this facility will assist in lowering nitrogen loadings in the Tampa Bay area," she said, which will help the area waters.

The plant will cost between $110 million and $150 million to build, she added, and it will bring jobs and a better tax base to the county, as well as possibly use the port to bring in wood pellets.

Rick Jensen of FB Energy said that he expected lower emissions. "Hopefully, there will be a lot more these facilities coming on," he said. "This is a very clean facility."

Commissioner Carol Whitmore asked when they'd begin to see something happen if the ordinance were approved, and Jensen said it would take six to seven months to get permits, and there would need to be approvals at county levels. He said he hoped to be in construction by the end of the first quarter of 2010.

Other county commission decisions

In the consent agenda, the county commission approved the following:

  • Home Care for the Elderly - Execute Amendment 4 to agreement with West Central Florida Area Agency on Aging, inc., increasing funding amount and replacing Attachment III Budget Summary.

  • Homeless Services - Execute Amendment 1 to agreement with Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness to increase funding for printing of The Community Resources Directory of Homeless Services for Manatee County Residents.

  • Indigent Care - Execute Amendment 1 to agreement with Manatee Memorial Hospital to provide county participation in the Agency for Health Care Administration Low Income Pool Intergovernmental Transfer Program.

  • Justice Assistance Grant - Adopt Resolution R-09-178 authorizing submission and acceptance of grant from Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE); authorize Chairman to execute all necessary documents related to grant submission and acceptance; and authorize Community Services Director or designee to execute all appropriate documents required in connection with administrative functions; and authorize Chairman to sign letter to FDLE approving allocation of Federal grant funds.

  • Old Parrish School House - Execute five-year lease agreement, and one-year funding agreement for non-profit services with Parrish Foundation, Inc., for operation of a Community Center.

  • West Coast Inland Navigation District (WCIND) - Authorize Chairman to sign letter to WCIND requesting redirection of unused funds to the Manatee County WCIND Countywide Navigation Improvement Fund for use in future county-developed navigation improvement projects.

  • Marketing Plans and Budget - Approve FY 2010-2011 Marketing Plans and Budget for Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

  • Budget Amendment Resolution - Adopt Budget Resolution B-09-034.

  • G.T. Bray Recreational Center - Execute agreement with Halfacre Construction, Inc., to provide design build construction services.

  • Red Light Enforcement System - Execute agreement with ACS State & Local Solutions, Inc., for automated red light enforcement system and services on a revenue generating basis as no cost to the County.

  • Trailer Estates Water System Improvements - Award IFB 09-1478DS to Harris-McBurney Company, and execute contract with simultaneous dating of performance/payment bonds, and acceptance of insurance certificate.

  • Library Donations - Accept donations to the Library Division totaling $18,957.12.

  • Library Fines and Fees - Adopt revisions to the Manatee County Public Library Materials Fines and Fees.

  • Talking Book Service - Execute agreement with Pinellas Public Library Cooperative to provide Talking Book service to Manatee County patrons.

  • Anna Maria Island Beach Nourishment Grant - Execute Amendment 3 to agreement with Florida Department of Environmental Protection (increase).

  • Hardee Correctional Institution - Execute contract with Florida Department of Corrections for deployment of State Department of Corrections work squad for the Manatee County Natural Resources Department.

  • Affordable Housing Project - Execute land use and deed restriction agreement with Manatee County Habitat for Humanity, Inc., for project partially funded by CDBG Program.

  • Community Development Block Grant Recovery (CDBG-R) Program - Execute Funding Approval/Agreement with U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for funding through the CDBG-R Program.

  • 12th Street Court East, Bradenton - Authorize negotiations for purchase of half-acre parcel owned by James Hall at 2907 12th Street Court East.

  • Kingfish Boat Ramp - Adopt Resolution R-09-132 declaring a public purpose for property located at Kingfish Boat Ramp and requesting Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to enter into lease agreement with Manatee County; and authorize Chairman to execute lease with FDOT.

  • MPO Professional Office Lease - Accept and authorize Chairman to sign renewal lease extension with Airport Commerce Center, Inc., for offices occupied by the Sarasota/Bradenton Metropolitan Planning Organization.

  • Tidewater Preserve Community Development District (CDD) - Authorize Chairman to send letter to Mayor of City of Bradenton requesting input from Bradenton City Council regarding dissolution of Tidewater Preserve CDD.

  • Data Collection - Execute Joint Funding Agreement with U.S. Geological Survey for data collection at five stations (Manatee River at Rye Bridge, Fort Hamer, Devil's Elbow, and Myakka Head, and Little Manatee River at Duette).

  • Fee Waivers - Waive services fees assessed utility customer accounts for returned bank items.

  • Ordinance 09-53 Debris Collection - Authorize setting public hearing on August 25, 2009, to consider adoption of Ordinance 09-53 amending Section 2-16-45 of the Manatee County Code of Laws to create public safety access to private streets.

  • Responses to Board Inquiries - Accept into the record responses from various County departments to inquiries of the Board of County Commissioners: 1) Parrish School House (B902579); 2) Fire-Damaged Home (B903189).


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