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Palmetto CRA approves selling land to school district


PALMETTO - Amid concern over the final use of the land, the Palmetto Community Redevelopment Agency on Monday night approved 5-0 the sale of some property to the School Board.

The site of four parcels of land, between 10th Avenue West and Nine Avenue West in the city, and called the "School Expansion Site," was sold for $1.239 million, plus $18,000 to the CRA for demolition costs, but subject to the approval of an independent counsel.

Commissioner Tambra Varnadore raised concerns over the final disposition of the land, since there is talk of relocating Palmetto Elementary School to the site, but the agreement of purchase and sale notes that the School Board will pursue rezoning application with the city for its .9-acre site on the northwest corner of 10th Avenue West and Seventh Street West to a classification that would permit office and/or commercial use.

The property is the old Future Farmers of America building, City Attorney Mark Barnebey said.

Varnadore said she was concerned that the School Board was going to turn around and sell the land, and that a school would never be built there, and she wanted separate counsel at the next meeting to discuss the issue.

Barnebey noted that the CRA might not get the money it's getting in the deal with the School Board from another buyer, considering the state of the economy, and the price is in excess of the appraised value.

Pointing to the item regarding zoning, Varnadore said, "It was always my understanding that the School Board was going to hold this property for a future school in our area. From reading this, it does not seem that this is what they're proposing."

Commissioner Brian Williams noted that they were told the district, if it built a school, would not build a full-size elementary school there. "They may not need those parcels, and there is a possibility they will sell those properties," he said. "But they still have the rest of the property that they can build a smaller school on."

Commissioner Tamara Cornwell said the school district is normally in the position to acquire properties for a school. "They are not normally in a position to secure property for future sales. Normally, that's the way they operate. And they base those school zones on the need where the population arises that the school needs to operate," she said. "We will need a smaller school location in that general area."

The CRA is in the business of redeveloping, Cornwell said, and the properties are abutting businesses that are there. "Therefore, what we would do with the property as the CRA is we would allow businesses to purchase that property and grow with the contiguous surrounding area," she said. "I'm not willing to retain that property as a CRA member and then be a property holder."

In other CRA decisions, the board:

  • Voted 5-0 to execute an agreement with the North River National Little League Inc. to permit storage of personal property in a CRA building at 930 Fifth St. W. in Palmetto.

  • Voted 5-0 to approve and authorize a change in Ward 1 Project Phase II, Sixth AvenueWEst and 12th Street Drive West.

  • Voted 5-0 to approve and authorize execution of an agreement for additional Riverside Drive engineering to look at widening Riverside Drive by about four feet between Eighth Avenue and Ninth Avenue.

  • Voted 5-0 to approve spending $760 for signs for businesses in the CRA District that are participating in the Police Department's "No Trespassing" initiative.

  • Voted 5-0 to approve the application for a Storefront Grant at 314 Eighth Ave. W.


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