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Port Manatee neighbors encouraged by ?encouragement zone?

Port Manatee neighbors encouraged by ôencouragement zoneö

   Property owners near Port Manatee have responded to an economic stimulus package proposed by Port Authority Chairman Joe McClash.

   Seven large landowners signed a 'Declaration of Interest' March 19 urging McClash to move forward with the Port Manatee Encouragement Zone, which has been developing since October 2007.

   'It's a simple idea,' said McClash, who also sits as an at-large commissioner in Manatee County. 'Allow property owners surrounding the port the option of developing their land with similar rights as if Port Manatee owned the land.'

   The proposal offers incentives to landowners near the port to develop their properties in ways benefiting Florida's economy, Manatee County and the port. The idea provides participating property owners local impact fee exemptions, accelerated county permitting privileges, inclusion within Port Manatee's Development of Regional Impact exemption and options for admission into the port's Foreign Trade Zone and for collaborative marketing initiatives.

   Declaration signers include John Green, principal of Curiosity Creek, a proposed 788-acre housing development near the port; and Art Roth of HRK Holdings LLC, which owns 676 acres directly east of the port. HRK purchased the bankrupt site of the old Piney Point phosphate facility in 2006.

   State Rep. Ronald Reagan, R-Bradenton, said he intends to support the port encouragement zone legislation in Tallahassee.

   Officials say the port is fueled by optimism related to the ongoing expansion of the Panama Canal.

   'Port Manatee is the closest deepwater port to the Panama Canal and we stand to benefit greatly from the canal's expansion, McClash said.

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