BRADENTON – Local developer Carlos Beruff has filed suit with Manatee County over the BOCC's denial for the request of a text amendment to the county's comp plan that would have greatly reduced development oversight on large coastal land parcels. Beruff and his partner on the project, Larry Lieberman, wanted to build a large marina and hotel as part of their Long Bar Pointe development in southwest Manatee County near IMG Academy and sought the change in language in immediate advance of other applications for that project.
Beruff, with Lieberman in the background, arguing their
case at the August 2013 meeting.
Beruff and Lieberman sought the comp plan changes for projects on 100-acres or more, located on a coastal line, adjacent to navigable waters and on an arterial roadway, that included “a demonstration of a public benefit.”
The text amendment was opposed by staff and had been opposed by the Manatee Planning Commission before the board voted 7-0 to deny it in a contentious meeting held at the Bradenton Area Convention Center in Palmetto on August 6, 2013.
At that same meeting, commissioners voted 4-3 to approve a controversial future use map amendment for the Long Bar Pointe project, after the removal of language regarding a proposed marina.
There was much local opposition to the project for reasons including the sea grass that would be damaged in dredging surrounding waters and the mangrove forests that would be damaged and destroyed during development.
Commercial and recreational fishermen were concerned that destroying feeder fish grounds in the area would have a ripple effect on the rest of the bay and gulf. Others were concerned for traffic impact, safety hazards from inadequate hurricane evacuation routes and the change in character that such a large-scale waterfront project might cause.
The project, which will see the build out of the last significant portion of undeveloped land on the Manatee County coastline of Sarasota Bay, is already slated for over 4,000 homes, plus 150,000 sq ft of commercial space, all approved by the board back in 2008.
Manatee County attorney Mickey Palmer sent commissioners the following email late Monday, making them aware of the suit.
On Aug 4, 2014, at 5:30 PM, "Mitchell Palmer" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
As you may know, today the County was served with a Notice of Claim under the Bert J. Harris Private Property Rights Protection Act (Section 70.001, et seq., Florida Statutes) by the owners / developers of the Long Bar Pointe property. The focus, of course, is the Board's decision last year to decline the developer's request for a transmittal of a text amendment to the County's Comprehensive Plan. While we have every intention of proceeding in good faith with the process required under the Bert Harris Act, rest assured that the Office of the County Attorney will vigorously defend the decision of the Board in this matter.
Once we have had an opportunity to review and analyze the Notice of Claim, we will provide you with our recommendations as to how the County should respond. Since the Act allows the owners / developers to file a lawsuit in the Circuit Court, we advise Commissioners to refrain from discussing the matter with anyone unless accompanied by an attorney from this office. We have made a similar recommendation to County staff within the Building & Development Services Department.
Please call upon me if you have questions or concerns.
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