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Manatee County ponders changes to adjust for its booming population

Construction vehicles on new master home bulding site.
Cathy Carter
Marisol, a new development by Neal Communities, is being built in eastern Manatee County on State Road 64 near Lake Manatee State Park.

By 2035, the county's population is expected to grow by 70,000, prompting commissioners to revise its comprehensive plan.

Manatee County's population is projected to increase by 70,000 by 2035.

And commissioners are planning some changes to the comprehensive plan in order to address that growth.

It's not easy to anticipate the future.

In the not-too-distant past, county comprehensive plans called for tennis courts, volleyball courts or basketball courts in certain developments.

What's missing?

"Fifteen years ago, who had ever heard of pickleball?" Kelly Klepper pointed out to commissioners during a May work session on the comprehensive plan rewrite.

Klepper is with Kimley-Horn and Associates, which is helping the county with the revision process.

Nicole Knapp, the county's director of development services, said the comprehensive plan is just too out-of-date to deal with the growth in Manatee.

"Planning documents are not meant to sit on a shelf for 30 years," Knapp said. "And that's basically, besides some Band-Aid amendments, as I like to call them, over the last 30 years or more, that's what happened to our code and comp plan."

Commissioner Kevin Von Osterbridge says the population growth has to be addressed.

"I think you still have a board that may not like the growth that we're seeing, may not want it, but there's also a reality that has to be acknowledged," Osterbridge said. "And I think that's the difference between previous boards and this board."

Regulation and codes for everything from housing and transportation to schools and recreation are up for review.

Public hearings are set for August, and a revised plan is expected to be completed in October.

I started my journalism career delivering the Toledo Blade newspaper on my bike.