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New sewer line will service future Peninsula Bay development

CORTEZ – The tree and bush clearing activity currently taking place along the north side of Cortez Road West, between 115th Street West and the West Manatee Fire Rescue station, is associated with a Manatee County force main sewer line replacement project.

The preliminary clearing work being performed the Woodruff & Sons construction company does not signal the beginning of the Peninsula Bay construction process, but there is documented connection between the county project and Whiting Preston’s future Peninsula Bay development.

On March 28, Preston’s Pen Bay 1 LLC and Manatee County entered into a force main-related permanent utilities easement agreement. The easement agreement names Pen Bay 1 LLC as the grantor and Manatee County as the grantee. The easement allows Manatee County to use in perpetuity a specific portion of the Pen Bay 1 property to install and maintain county utilities.

According to the signed utilities easement agreement, “The force main will be designed with the capacity to carry the sewage from the planned Peninsula Bay development for 2,000 equivalent dwelling units and grantee (the county) shall reserve such capacity for the Peninsula Bay development.”
That same day, Preston also signed an affidavit of ownership and encumbrances pertaining to the utilities easement.

New sewer line will abut Peninsula Bay property
In late 2015, Whiting Preston provided The Sun with an in-person preview of the proposed Peninsula Bay project. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

According to Manatee County Commission Chair Kevin Van Ostenbridge, a new 36-inch force main sewer line will be located in the easement area and some of Woodruff & Sons’ construction equipment and construction materials will be stored elsewhere on the Pen Bay 1 property that has long been associated with Preston’s Manatee Fruit Company agricultural operations.

New sewer line will abut Peninsula Bay property
Woodruff & Sons is storing some of its construction equipment elsewhere on the Pen Bay I property. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

When viewed from two different service road entrances, there doesn’t appear to be any development activity taking place on the eastern portion of the Pen Bay 1 property. Nor are there any signs of development elsewhere on the more visible central and western portions of the property.

New sewer line will abut Peninsula Bay property
These agricultural elements remain in place near the property’s 115th Street West service road entrance. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

Past approvals

The properties associated with the Peninsula Bay development are located north of Cortez Road, south of Palma Sola Bay and east and west of 115th St. W. The Pen Bay 1 properties surround on three sides the Sunny Shores mobile home community, the Brandt Bay Apartments and several single-family homes.

New sewer line will abut Peninsula Bay property
This map illustration was included in the planning documents presented in 2016. – Manatee County | Submitted

In October 2016, the Manatee County Commission voted 6-0 in favor of approving the proposed Peninsula Bay development. The 2016 county approvals allow for 1,950 residential units, a 150-room hotel, a bed and breakfast, 90,000 square feet of retail, commercial and office space, a 200-capacity dry boat storage facility, a boat ramp and a marina basin.

In July 2016, Preston and attorney Caleb Grimes presented the proposed 358-acre Peninsula Bay development to the Manatee County Planning Commission that voted 5-1 in favor of recommending county commission approval of the proposed project. Planning Commissioner Matt Bower cast the only opposition vote to the proposed development.

During the 2016 planning commission meeting, Cortez resident and former Manatee County Commissioner Jane von Hahmann was among those who expressed concerns that the proposed project would significantly increase traffic on Cortez Road.

“We understand they have the right to develop their land. Though we don’t want to deny them their rights, as citizens of this county, and as residents of the peninsula, we believe we have the right to enjoy our homes that we lived in for 20, 40, 60 years,” von Hahmann said.

“We have the right to not be made prisoners in our home because of the traffic and our inability to access them for the better part of five months of the year, sometimes sitting in traffic for 45 minutes to over an hour,” she said.

During that same meeting, former County Commissioner Joe McClash said, “I have concerns with traffic, density and height. The traffic impacts all of us. It’s not just a localized area of Cortez.”

Future plans

According to the project page posted at the Kimley-Horn + Canin Associates website, the Orlando-headquartered firm is providing master planning, vision planning, public involvement and transportation planning services for what it describes as a 375-acre master planned infill development.

New sewer line will abut Peninsula Bay property
The illustrative site plan posted at the Kimley-Horn + Carin Associates website illustrates the planned Peninsula Bay development. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

According to the company website and the project information sheet posted there, “Peninsula Bay provides new access to the water for both future and current county residents with a mixed-use marina village, boat ramp and a new 67-acre lake that could host kayaks, paddleboards and small sailboats.

“The open space network is a complex web of interstitial green strands, grand waterfront views, and preserved natural features including nearly 70 acres of mangroves. Combining the laid-back atmosphere of a nearby historic fishing village with the best in national design expertise, Peninsula Bay will be a unique retreat for residents and visitors,” the website says.

New sewer line will abut Peninsula Bay property
The easement area along Cortez Road West is being cleared for the county’s pending sewer line replacement project. – Joe Hendricks | Sun

Friday morning, The Sun reached out to Preston’s Palmetto Companies Inc. and Kimley-Horn + Carin Associates seeking additional information on the current Peninsula Bay plans and a potential construction timeline. As of Saturday morning, those inquiries had not yet generated any responses.

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