More growth expected in northeast Manatee County

This story was updated on January 11. A property owned by Jones Potato Farm in Manatee County has been approved for development, but has yet to be sold to a developer.

Further growth is expected in northeast Manatee County, where a planned community project with 7,200 homes and a new private sewage treatment plant east of Parrish could trigger the biggest development boom since Lakewood Ranch.

L3 Partnership LLC proposed an agricultural neighborhood, or “Agrihood,” which would build the company’s 5,000-acre farm in northeastern Manatee with 7,200 homes, 2 million square feet of commercial space and 1.8 million square feet of light industrial space, combined with larger tracts of farmland and 80 acres of open space.

“This is the single largest project the county has ever approved,” said attorney Mark Barnebey, who represents L3 Partnership.

“It’s not as big as Lakewood Ranch, but Lakewood Ranch has been approved in phases, and it’s bigger than any single phase that has ever been approved,” he said. “It would be similar in population to the town of Palmetto.”

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If it comes to fruition, the project could fuel a searing housing market in the Parrish area, where North River Ranch is already bringing in nearly 6,000 new homes after construction. This project already has around 300 housing units on the land and around 1,000 lots under active development. Several other developers are also building houses nearby.

But there are risks with the Gamble Creek Village project. It requires developers to successfully establish a private sewage treatment plant for residents. It is also three kilometers east of the Manatee Future Development Zone boundary, an urban boundary intended to prevent urban sprawl from spreading into rural lands to the east.

Public opinion is mixed, as those seeking to preserve the county’s farmland grapple with the writing on the wall that rapid manatee development creeps east of the urban boundary earlier than foreseen.

“The problem is, (we) see it as the lesser of two evils,” local resident Mark Vanderee said at a recent town hall meeting.

“The risks associated with this are real,” he said. “You take a leap forward. There is a risk that the infrastructure will collapse under a private entity. There are questions about insurance bond issues in the future… But among my neighbors, the discussion is that they have lost confidence in the ability (of the County Commission) to control the overdevelopment of our county and to preserve the natural beauty of the eastern county. ”

Crossing the line

“Development breeds development,” adjacent property owner Alan Jones told the Herald-Tribune.

He owns the Jones Potato Farm and has been growing potatoes and green beans in Manatee since 1986. Approximately 4,500 acres of his property lies along the eastern and northern boundaries of the village of Gamble Creek.

While Jones sees the risks associated with the Gamble Creek Village project, he also sees an opportunity for the community of Parrish.

“Really this area has been sitting here for many years because Lakewood Ranch has been successful and all of this land is being developed,” Jones said. “This is the next development zone to take place. In the Parrish region, we are not against development, we just want to have smart planning and development, and build the roads with development.”

Since the development would be east of the urban boundary, the sewage treatment plant proposed by L3 is a mainstay of the effort as the county will not provide utilities beyond this line.

But establishing the plant is expensive, and landowners between the urban boundary and Gamble Creek Village would benefit from being allowed to operate the proposed plant, rather than trying to build one themselves if they choose to develop. their property.

Manatee County Commissioners stopped before moving the urban boundary, meaning that under current rules development restrictions still apply to nearby farm owners, while Gamble Creek Village is the only one that would be allowed to develop intensively under the current rules.

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Jones – who recently zoned a 635-acre property in Parrish for development, where, although it hasn’t been sold, North River Ranch developer Neal Land and Neighborhoods hopes to develop around 1,833 homes – asks if nearby landowners such as himself and others who own land within that two-mile gap will be able to tap into the sewage treatment plant and position their land for future development.

“I own an adjacent lot, will I be allowed to develop on my property as well? It’s a question I have, ”Jones said. “It’s just a weird situation that has never happened in Manatee County before, where they went out and zoned 5,000 acres for heavy use in the middle of a farm property.”

The board still has not given final approvals for the project, but the stars appear to be lining up the effort with the county commission approving the necessary changes to the overall plan on December 16 to make the proposal L3 possible.

At that meeting, Commissioner Carol Whitmore addressed the subject, asking Barnebey if nearby landowners would also be able to tap into the new wastewater treatment plant.

“It’s going to cost a lot of money to make this processing plant,” Whitmore said. “The idea was to allow other landowners – as it would be prohibitive for others to be able to do so in the future – and to design it (thus) with the financial support of other people they could exploit if they so decided in the future. “

Barnebey said the L3 partnership would be open to the idea if the county allows it and the financial commitment is made by the interested party.

Commissioner Misty Servia was the only board member to vote against the overall changes to the plan, citing fears that approval of this development would lead to more residential growth east of the urban boundary.

“I think this concept is so cool, I love this concept,” Commissioner Misty Servia said at the December 16 meeting. “My problem is its location and timing, because everything between the (city boundary) and this property is going to change once that is approved … It’s like releasing the pressure valve. You’re going to see growth between the ( urban limit) and this land, and that concerns me. “

Build Parrish

Almost like an olive branch to the locals – many of whom are longtime farmers who see development explode around them – the commissioners voted unanimously on Jan.4 to commit $ 4 million in funds from the ‘American Rescue Plan Act to bring sewer infrastructure to the village of Parrish.

This plan would allow restaurants to join in the fun and could be a crucial step in creating a “downtown” for the growing community of Parrish. There are new schools in the area, many homes under construction and the residents of Gamble Creek Village would surely frequent the area if there were more dining options.

Jones, who serves as the rural development president of the Parrish Civic Association, said the effort was badly needed. The association has a “Parish Action Plan” in which it defines its objectives for the community.

“You can have an office over a septic tank, but you can’t have coffee,” Jones said. “You can’t have a restaurant here unless you have a sewer. So here we are, we have all this development going on all around us, and you have this 150 year old community right on (US) 301, the old village of Parrish, and the county wouldn’t have bit the bullet and would not have put the sewers for us. “

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Commissioner George Kruse said the funds and infrastructure give residents a chance to develop the village as they see fit.

“One of the problems they had is why there are only four restaurants there, it’s without this sewage expansion, you can’t really build a business there,” he said. Kruse said. “They’re trying to build the whole downtown area … I think we need this sewage expansion to encourage it … You’re not going to attract people to Parrish Village except not there first. This is one of those situations where we have to put that in place to attract the people who will end up paying it off effectively to build the next step of something. “

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