BRADENTON BEACH – A Feb. 8 commission discussion on bike and pedestrian improvements produced a parallel conversation about who might pay to restore driveways disturbed by Manatee County’s water and sewer main projects.
While nixing the Avenue C bike improvements, the Bradenton Beach Commission discussed potentially spending a half-million dollars or more to restore driveways along Avenue C, where county work is now taking place in city rights of way. Similar work will take place along Gulf Drive North in Bradenton Beach and is already underway in Holmes Beach.
“You’d be looking at a sizeable chunk of change.”
Lynn Burnett, City Engineer
The city of Bradenton Beach is not obligated to replace driveway materials located in city rights of way, but Mayor John Chappie and the commission feel it might be the right thing to do if the funding can be found.
City Engineer Lynn Burnett said the county’s contractor, Westra Construction, is only required to partially restore the disturbed rights of way by installing #57 stone at a depth of six inches. Westra is not required to replace asphalt, concrete, brick pavers or shells removed from city rights of way.
The white 57 stone is used Island-wide in vertical infiltration stormwater trenches recommended and engineered by Burnett, who serves as city engineer for all three Island cities.
Chappie said he didn’t recall whether the City Commission made any previous decisions regarding driveway restoration. He also said he didn’t know anyone that was a big fan of 57 stone. Commissioner Jake Spooner said the 57 stone used along Bridge Street and other areas frequently parked on and driven on gets crushed into a fine dust that impedes the intended drainage benefits.
Burnett said depending on the materials used it could cost approximately $580,000 to restore an estimated 100 driveways along Avenue C, and additional driveways will be impacted elsewhere.
“You’d be looking at a sizeable chunk of change,” she said.
The commission discussed the possible use of the county’s surplus beach concession revenues, but Chappie questioned whether the county would allow funds intended to provide an Island-wide public benefit to be used on driveways. Fifth cent gas tax and the half-cent infrastructure sales tax revenues were also mentioned.
In addition to any personal restoration costs incurred, impacted property owners will need a city-issued right of way use permit to make city-approved modifications to portions of driveway restored with 57 stone. Commissioner Marilyn Maro suggested those permit fees be waived.
Chappie suggested the city start taking pictures of impacted and soon-to-be impacted driveways and no formal decisions were made.
Letters and permits
Letters and permits obtained by The Sun further illustrate Westra’s obligations.
The Bradenton Beach right of way restoration conditions were established in a June 8, 2017 letter signed by then-Mayor Bill Shearon. The letter, to be drafted by Burnett, was unanimously approved sight unseen by Shearon, Chappie, Spooner, Ralph Cole, Marilyn Maro and Jake Spooner at the commission’s June 7 Capital Improvement Projects meeting.
That day, Burnett said the county required immediate action and this was a routine matter that did not need to come back to the commission. She repeatedly said the disturbed rights of way would be restored “consistent with the current adopted land development code and city standard details.” She did not specifically mention 57 stone and the commission did not request additional details.
Addressed to Manatee County Project Manager Jennifer Fehrs, the June 8 letter said, “Existing impervious driveway surfaces shall be removed and shall be restored with the heavy duty infiltration trench materials.”
The attached diagram referenced 57 stone.
Shearon was the only commission member who saw the letter before it was sent to the county.
On June 19, a similar letter signed by Holmes Beach Mayor Bob Johnson was sent to Fehrs.
“The right of way shall be restored utilizing heavy duty infiltration trench detail as adopted by City Commission in November 2016,” Johnson’s letter said, also referencing a diagram that showed 57 stone.
On Friday, Burnett confirmed the city of Holmes Beach also plans to make stormwater improvements before the city rights of way are fully restored.
The right of way permit the Bradenton Beach Building Department issued to Westra on July 11 differs from the letter and says, “Project also includes restoration of all sidewalk, concrete, brick, shell driveways, landscaping, grass and removal and replacement of mailboxes and signs as applicable.”
The permit states the project will extend from Cortez Road to just north of Manatee Avenue.
The Holmes Beach Building Department’s right of way permit packet includes a document that says, “See restoration conditions letter from mayor dated 6/9/17, attached.”
The permit says the project is citywide, 28th Street to 4000 Gulf Drive.
Mayor Dan Murphy said Westra has not requested a restoration letter or right of way use permit in Anna Maria.