Area is back to farm­land af­ter panel ap­proves re­zon­ing

The Bradenton Herald - - Front Page - BY RYAN CALLIHAN rcal­li­[email protected]­

A com­pli­cated “down-zon­ing” is­sue for a some­what ru­ral Pal­metto neigh­bor­hood didn’t seem all that com­pli­cated to Man­a­tee com­mis­sion­ers.

A group of seven home­own­ers in the 4400 block of 26th Av­enue East pre­vi­ously asked the county to al­low a re­zone of their res­i­den­tial land to agri­cul­ture. The re­quest came be­fore the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion on Nov. 9, where com­mis­sion­ers voted 3-1 to deny rec­om­men­da­tion of the change, even though county staff had given it a thumbs up.

“We’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced this be­fore,” Plan­ning Com­mis­sioner Mike Rahn said at the time. “It usu­ally goes from agri­cul­tural to res­i­den­tial with clear in­tent. I’m hav­ing a tough time with the down-zon­ing.”

For the Man­a­tee County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers on Thurs­day, the in­tent seemed pretty clear — home­own­ers on a to­tal of 25.13 acres of land want the same right af­forded to their nearby neigh­bors to raise farm an­i­mals.

“This is a very back-to-na­ture, very whole­some way of liv­ing,” said Lauri Con­tarino, one of the land own­ers push­ing for the switch from res­i­den­tial to an agri­cul­tural zon­ing des­ig­na­tion.

But not ev­ery neigh­bor is on the same page. A group of op­po­nents said they’d rather not live next to loud roost­ers, pigs and cows that might be brought into the area.

“I grew up on a farm and was a 4-H kid, but there’s a big dif­fer­ence be­tween a cow that’s foot­ball field away or a rooster sit­ting un­der your back bed­room

win­dow,” said Sharon Kreuger, who also owns prop­erty in the area.

Those fight­ing the change con­tended that these home­own­ers had a chance to own agri­cul­tural land some­where in Man­a­tee County be­fore they chose to buy home in this quaint Pal­metto neigh­bor­hood.

“Six of these seven parcels sold in the last three years,” said home­owner Chris Worm­wood. “At that time, they had the chance to fig­ure out what they wanted to use their prop­erty for.”

Worm­wood’s daugh­ter, John El­iz­a­beth Alemán, who is a co-owner of his prop­erty and a com­mis­sioner in Mi­ami Beach, also joined in the fight. She said the pro­posal is clearly out of line, ac­cord­ing to the county’s com­pre­hen­sive plan.

“Nowhere in Man­a­tee County is the com­mu­nity as­pir­ing to take fully de­vel­oped sin­gle-fam­ily home neigh­bor­hoods and turn them back to farm land. That is not what the com­mu­nity is as­pir­ing for, and that’s why the A-1 def­i­ni­tion is writ­ten that that it is,” said Alemán, who is the chair of her com­mis­sion’s land use com­mit­tee. “It says ‘the pur­pose of the dis­trict is to pro­vide short-term agri­cul­tural use and to pro­vide to ar­eas tran­si­tion­ing from ru­ral to sub­ur­ban or ur­ban. The words are im­por­tant. They’re one-di­rec­tional. It’s an up-zon­ing mech­a­nism. A-1 is not a down-zon­ing mech­a­nism.”

She also ar­gued the pos­si­bil­ity of the types of in­ten­sive land uses that might be al­lowed on agri­cul­tural land, such as an­i­mal breed­ing fa­cil­i­ties, ken­nels and heavy equip­ment sales. County staff didn’t see it that way, though.

Dorothy Rainey, a county plan­ner, ex­plained that ac­cess to a pub­lic road would be re­quired for those uses, which is not avail­able in the sub­ject area. Those uses would also need to meet cer­tain cri­te­ria for a spe­cial per­mit, she ex­plained.

In doc­u­ments sub­mit­ted to the record, Alemán con­tested that Kita has tried to skirt res­i­den­tial zon­ing rules by claim­ing her farm an­i­mals as emo­tional sup­port pets. Dis­cord be­tween the neigh­bors be­gan when Kita and an­other neigh­bor were re­ported to county code en­force­ment for pos­ses­sion of more than four roost­ers.

“This started out as a tale about two roost­ers,” Word­word said. “It’s go­ing to stay that way, I think.”

In a Jan. 3 let­ter to Com­mis­sioner Priscilla Whisenant Trace, res­i­dent and re­zon­ing ad­vo­cate Ge­orge Tatge said he hoped the change would “de­crease the den­sity of pri­vate prop­erty” and “re­solve re­cent code en­force­ment cases re­gard­ing roost­ers and horses.”

County com­mis­sion­ers unan­i­mously ap­proved the re­quest to re­zone the neigh­bor­hood, cit­ing the right for home­own­ers to be able to do what they want with their prop­erty and nearby land that is al­ready zoned for agri­cul­tural uses.

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