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Local Government County Commissioners Approve New Zoning District for IMG


BRADENTON -- It's called the Institutional Zoning District and it streamlines, it expedites and cuts red tape, all while trimming the budget. They are custom built and the first one off the assembly line is in the hands of the global sports giant, IMG Academies

International Management Group (IMG) first came to the Bradenton area in 1999, started as a soccer school and since has grown to become one of the most popular sports training institutions around the world. Mastering training in nearly every sport, IMG's umbrella encumbers tennis, baseball, football, soccer and golf, to mention just a few. 

Last year, IMG purchased a connecting 100-acre parcel from Manatee Fruit Co. which gave a boost to its master plan. That plan includes not just extra fields and training facilities, but a K-12 school, dormitories for live-in athletes, a sports medicine clinic, research labs and retail stores. 

IMG's popularity has put the institution on the fast track and Thursday's approval is going to help them keep their pace. The Institutional Zoning District (IZD) designation allows them to administratively handle many of the decisions within days, that once took weeks or months to accomplish.

Their responsibilities to the public haven't changed. They still have to follow code and obey regulations. By submitting a preempted wish list of facilities, land purposes and contour, they avoid many of the formalities. If they drift from their previously approved  list and attempt to indulge in something not on the list, it is business as usual and back before the BOCC. 

Some of the citizens at Thursday's meeting were concerned about noise, lights, late hours and eye sores. All of Manatee codes must be enforced as if they were out of the IZD. Commissioner Joe McClash also asked questions about the permenant nature of the uplands and service roads. Caleb Grimes, Attorney representing IMG, also described the designed lighting and how superior they are to lights of the past.

There is no question, there will be noise. Kids are kids and training at night is part of the program, but commissioners say the ordinances will be enforced. 

The highest building structure will be limited to 35 feet and set back from the property line by a 500 ft. buffer. Most of the structures are located in the southeast section and on both the south and the east, a thick line of trees separate a neighborhood in each of those directions. 

Being the first of these IZD's, commissioners have vowed to monitor its effects and affects to the county, neighborhood and process. The labor force, paperwork and time that could be saved looks to be plenty. Will this new zoning district work?  The community will be the judge. 


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