The League of Women Voters of Manatee County Government Committee observes the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) meetings for items of interest to citizens and the League and notes adherence, or lack of adherence, to good governance procedures and the Sunshine Law. The following are the major points from the Board of Manatee County Commissioners Regular Meeting on 8/8/2023 observed by Ginger McCallum and Tina Shope.
ITEMS OF INTEREST
Commissioner Kruse asked if the change in the type of funding cut out anything important. Chad Butzow, Public Works Director, clarified that they are making the change in order to get the sidewalks and the first roundabout started, which are ready to go, rather than waiting for the entire project funding to be available. The rest of the existing project is committed and will be addressed/funded in the future. Approved 7-0.
Item #30 – False Alarm Ordinance
Background: After operating a False Alarm Ordinance for almost 20 years, Manatee County Sheriff Office has concluded that revisions to the False Alarm Ordinance were warranted to decrease the burden on alarm users while simultaneously ensuring that law enforcement resources are employed in the most efficient manner. After direction from the BoCC in February 2023, the County Attorney’s Office has assisted in reformatting the Ordinance for consideration today.
*Item #31 – Adoption of Resolution R-23-088, to convey county-owned property located at 4410 66th Street West, Bradenton, 34210, for Affordable Veterans Housing Development to Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Inc., a New York not-for-profit corporation; and Execution of Land Use Restriction Agreement and Conveyance Deed – District 4
This item is a follow-up from April 25, 2023 (*see below) when the BoCC gave direction to move forward with this project. The request today conveys the property to Tunnels to Towers (T2T). Actions requested included:
After a short presentation by a T2T spokesperson Gavin Naples, questions by Commissioner Beardon were answered by T2T Mr. Naples and T2T legal representative Mr. Barneby:
Commissioner Van Ostenbridge expressed concerns:
Kruse said that commissioners were bringing up items for future consideration, after the project was built out. The issue today is to convey the property to T2T so they can start the process. He also noted that the BoCC did not require other developers to hold neighborhood meetings until after ownership conveyance and the developer has created a site plan. He encouraged the BoCC to move this forward in order to meet the commitment they’ve previously made to the county’s homeless and at-risk veterans.
A great deal of discussion followed again bringing up issues of whether USVets would be the service provider, whether there should be community meetings and the number of units approved for the property being 588 rather than 120 previously discussed by BoCC and T2T. Rahn and Kruse urged the Commissioners to move forward today, and Turner expressed an interest in ironing out the needed contract changes and voting today.
County Attorney Clague stated he was more comfortable with the changes to the maximum units being adjusted back to 150 units from the staff-initiated 588 offline, and could get that done within 2 weeks. Satcher said he would support the motion today if it were amended to limit units to 150, and add neighborhood meetings within 4 weeks.
Kruse amended his motion, to add a limit of 150 units versus 588 units. Rahn seconded. Commissioner discussion continued on amended motion.
Gary Foreman stated he lived nearby and the property under discussion is in a high drug dealing area and it is a long bus ride to the VA clinic, so the location is not ideal. He also complained that the details of the contract were posted after hours on the August 7, so he and the public didn’t have adequate time to review.
The motion on the floor was reviewed by the attorney but time was needed to identify where the agreements needed to be amended to limit units to 150. Kruse asked for a short recess; Van Ostenbridge recessed for lunch.
Upon return from lunch, VanOstenbridge asked Attorney Clague to read the revised motion. Clague asked Mr. Barneby to review the changes. Kruse moved to approve the amended item. There was no second. Rahn, who had originally seconded the amended motion, was absent. Satcher and Beardon were also absent.
Ballard moved to continue this item for up to 6 weeks in order to iron out the details discussed and VanOstenbridge seconded. Passed 3-1 (Kruse against, Satcher, Beardon and Rahn absent).
*FROM 4/25/2023 LWVMC NOTES:Item #42 – Discussion of Veteran Transitional Housing In Spring of 2022, two non-profits, Tunnels 2 Towers and US Vets, approached Manatee County government on their desire to bring supportive services and housing for Veterans to Manatee County. There is no cost to the county for direct building cost nor for on-going operating expenses for this project. The land site is currently valued at $6.1 million and the title to the property would be conveyed to the project’s two non-profit agencies at no cost. Kruse pointed out that the Utilities building currently on the land has to be vacated because it’s no longer safe or usable.
Although the title in the agenda is “Transitional” housing, the actual proposed project is for 122 permanent rather than transitional housing units. The goal is for “permanent supportive housing” as the success rate of transitional housing was low. Wrap around services would include mental health and wellness, workforce development, and homelessness prevention.
Van Ostenbridge, Bearden, and Baugh made statements expressing concern that this project might make Manatee County a magnet for attracting additional homeless veterans.
Kruse staunchly defended this specific project and the specific proposed location.
After lengthy commissioner discussion, Satcher stated that this project is clearly the most effective, least expensive, and courageous option to actually address veteran homelessness in Manatee County.
Motion to accept the staff recommendation to move forward with this project passed 7-0.
Item # 32. Planning Commission Advisory Board Appointment – Two Seats Due to Turner’s appointment as County Commissioner, an immediate opening was created on the Planning Commission. From the list of citizens who applied, Turner nominated Richard Bedford, an architect and real estate/land use consultant, for the seat he previously filled.