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Manatee County Commission discusses effort to preserve environmental land

On Wednesday, county commissioners discussed the process to identify, evaluate and purchase those properties as they prepare to levy the new tax next year.

Commissioners have not discussed any specific properties for purchase so far. Wednesday's meeting primarily addressed procedures and input on how funds could be used.

That process involves the county's Environmental Lands Management and Acquisition Advisory Committee, which would review and prioritize properties before they are presented to county commissioners for approval.

County staff also presented resolutions Wednesday that would modify the 15-member committee to include one resident from each county district. Commissioners voted to create a liaison on the committee, with the intent to appoint Commissioner James Satcher to the role.

Wednesday's vote amended the resolutions presented by staff, and the board would need to vote to approve the resolutions during a future meeting to make the changes official.

County Administrator Scott Hopes said the tax is meant to strike balance between the protection of environmentally valuable lands with home construction and the development of farmland in the face of rapid population growth.

Preservation of the county's natural assets is a major factor for attracting new residents and tourists, he said.