Manasota Key (Storch Report) –The south end of Manasota Key will undergo further commercialization in an effort to broaden its tax base resulting in a change of the character of this barrier reef if Charlotte County Commissioners get their way with current plans.
A letter was distributed to property owners on January 12th by the Manasota Key Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU) outlining the improvements, which dovetails with previously announced plans for beach renourishment, but not so noted in this letter.
The overall plan for the Charlotte County section of the key is available online at www.charlottecountyfl.com/PublicWorks/msbumstu/manasotakey.asp.
Basically, the plan would change the character of the south end of the Key from a quiet beach community to one more like Siesta Key to the north, resulting in increased tourism, traffic, public access to the beaches over previously private land in exchange for beach renourishment and further construction of hotels and condos.
This would increase the county property tax base and tourism revenue. The MSTU is funded by an ad valorem tax on properties within its boundaries. The current rate is 0.7798, or $78 annually, for every $100,000 of taxable value per property.
In season, this section of the Key can’t handle the traffic from its current influx of snowbirds and will obviously have an impact on beaches on the north end of the Key which is in Sarasota County and is primarily residential. The only commercial operations on the north end are two small motels and the Manasota Beach Club, with rental cottages. There are no condos or hotels on the north end.
According to the letter sent to property owners in Charlotte County, the staff is requesting additional input prior to finalizing the plans for, The Gulf Boulevard sidewalk – this includes a sidewalk, lighting, landscaping and drainage from the roundabout to the State park; and North Beach Road Commercial Area — This includes a design for on-street parking, sidewalks, landscaping and drainage from the roundabout to the north end of the County beach parking lot.
A future project, the letter says, involves road re-striping to include two(2), nine (9) foot travel lanes and four (4) foot bike paths with bike lane symbols.
The letter lacks the transparency of placing all of the projects in context with the overall master plan. For this, you must review the master plan online. Nor does the letter outline costs or disclose the anticipated impact on the Key or explain how the character of the Key would change as a result of what is discussed as improvements.
An enclosed postcard asks residents to select as many of what projects they would like to see completed among the following: 5′ sidewalk (West side of Gulf Blvd; Roadway lighting (Gulf Blvd); Landscaping; No improvements at this time.
I would recommend property owners select, No improvements at this time until the County can explain the motive and costs for these improvements. If the overall intent is to further commercialize the south end of the Key with the intent to improve a revenue base for the County, by increasing tourism, traffic, and building of more condos thus transforming the character of the Key, the County should provide more transparency, rather than serving up these projects on a piecemeal basis.
The only other beach under the purview of Charlotte County is on the barrier reef of Boca Grande, and I don’t see the County Commissioners attempting to commercialize this conclave of the wealthy.