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AMSCD to Redo Election Map

The process leading to directly electing at least one seat on the Ave Maria Stewardship Community District is going to take at least a month longer because of a need to revise a map showing the "urban area" in the district.

The amount of "urban area" determines the number of seats that will be chosen through a general election rather than the current system under which landowners elect all seats on a one-vote-per-acre basis. Residents approved moving to direct election in a referendum in June, the results of which were officially certified at the AMSCD monthly meeting Tuesday.

District Manager Todd Wodraska said at the meeting that the decision to redo the map was taken by staff after a number of comments and questions were received following publication of the map at the end of last week. The map counted as "urban area" only residential neighborhoods, but the district engineer who prepared the map, Dan Brundage, said at the meeting that he now thought it was reasonable to count as "urban area" lakes owned by the district and land served by district roads. The original map excluded from the "urban area" calculation much developed land including commercial areas, parks, the Donahue Academy and most of the AMU campus.

The act of the Florida legislature that created the Ave Maria district stipulates that one seat on the five-member board can be directly elected if the amount of "urban area" is less than 25 percent; two seats if the "urban area" is between 25 and 50 percent; three seats from 25-75 percent, four seats from 75-90 percent and five seats over 90 percent.

The original map published last week showed the amount of "urban area" in Ave Maria at about 10 percent. Mr. Brundage said he expects the revised map will still show the "urban area" below 25 percent.

The new map will be presented at the next AMSCD meeting, scheduled for Friday, Sept. 9 – a revised date because the regular meeting date of the first Tuesday of the month is the day after Labor Day. Mr. Brundage and Barron Collier representative David Genson also agreed in response to a question to specify at that meeting the total amount of acreage in the district that could ever be considered an "urban area."

The district has 10,805 acres of which approximately 4,000 acres are specified for the town of Ave Maria and another 1,000 for Ave Maria University. Some land in the district can never be developed because it is for wildlife habitat, water retention and other purposes. But other land in the district could be developed, Mr. Genson said, as "hamlets" or "villages."

Following the presentation of the revised map at the Sept. 9 meeting, residents would have 30 days to make comments or file objections. Depending on how that goes, Mr. Wodraska said he would expect an actual election to occur sometime between January and March of 2017 but it could be longer.

Also at the meeting:

- The board approved the budget for the next fiscal year which begins Oct. 1. The budget is little changed from this year and keeps assessments on residents unchanged.

- Mr. Wodraska said the Sept. 9 meeting will consider two new bond offerings – long-term bonds for infrastructure for Maple Ridge Phase 4, Coquina Phases 2 and 3 and Maple Ridge Reserve Phase 2; and short-term bonds relating to the extension of Anthem Parkway.

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