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Citizens Rally in Protest of Long Bar Pointe Development


CORTEZ – Citizens gathered at the corner of Cortez and 75th Street W in the Bonefish/Winn Dixie plaza parking lot on Friday afternoon to show opposition to the Long Bar Pointe development planned on the Sarasota Bay, behind IMG Academy in Southwest Manatee County. A preliminary site plan for phase one of the development will go before the Manatee County Commission at Tuesday's meeting.

In spite of the weather reports of rain, around a dozen concerned citizens turned out Friday afternoon to voice opposition. The signs read: NO HIDDEN AGENDA, SAVE OUR WETLANDS, SAVE OUR SHORE, and LONG BAR - DEFEND IT. 

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From L to R: Bill Burgraff, Barbara Angelucci, Paul Valenz and Jo Williams 

"We hope to make the developer abide by the rules and regulations of the Land Development Code by presenting a Master Plan for the whole parcel, not piece by piece, protect the wetlands and ensure there will be neither pollution of Sarasota Bay from runoff water nor drastic change of the dynamics of this area because of copious amounts of fill required to build in this high risk flood zone," said the rally's organizer Barbara Angelucci. "As this is an extremely-sensitive area, rich in resources, it requires meticulous planning for an environmentally-friendly development. That is not being done.”


Developer Carlos Beruff has accused the county of unfairly failing to include the project in an Urban Service Area (USA) adopted by the board last year. The Urban Service Area reduces oversight of development and exempts projects within it from Developments of Regional Impact (DRI) reviews by the state.

Many residents were alarmed when the Long Bar Pointe property was included in the initial USA because it resides within a Coastal Evacuation Area. The Cortez fishing village (also in a CEA) and the Long Bar property were both removed from the USA in a 4-3 vote in November, which amended its map in order to roll it back from the shoreline.

Beruff has since accused the county of showing favoritism to IMG Academy and Manatee Fruit Farms, nearby properties that were included in the USA maps. Beruff gave deposition to county legal staff this week. The issue will be heard by the Division of Administrative Hearings in March.

Meanwhile, state Senator Bill Galvano is working to get all development in Manatee County exempted from DRIs. Galvano, who replaced termed-out Senator Mike Bennett in 2012, is trying to pass a bill in the upcoming legislative session that would remove all development from such review in counties of more than 300,000 (which includes both Manatee and Sarasota). If SB 372 passes, the USA controversy would be moot.


On the other hand, what Angelucci and others opposed to the Long Bar Pointe development fear is the preferential treatment they say Beruff too often receives when it comes to permitting and the BOCC, a board in which he has generously contributed to many members.

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Larry Grossman

I asked Janet Gallagher why she was there and she replied, "Some of us have to be the voice for those who can't speak."

Gallagher lives a few miles north of the proposed project. 

"So people don't forget there is still work we need to do," was Arlene Flisik's answer to the same question. "We need to hold off the improper development proposed."

I asked Jo Williams what she was there for? Her answer: "I want to save our bay, our wetlands, and protect us from future development." Williams paused for a moment and added, "It is killing us."

Paul Velenz agreed with Williams and said, "It is obvious when standing here, the roads can't handle any more traffic." Velenz, as well as the others, appeared to be taking the mission personally. Velenz added, "I bought my house in 1988. I want my great grandchildren to see how beautiful some of this place still is." 

Bill Burgraff, who lives in close proximity to the proposed development said, "I like what Capt. Kathe said at the commission meeting, 'Of the the 20 years I have been taking people on charters, never once did anyone ask to see a marina.'" Burgraff was referring the testimony Capt. Fathe Fannon, a Cortez charter Captain, gave at the August 6, 2014 Long Bar Pointe Land Use meeting, that lasted until almost 2 a.m. the next morning, with more than a thousand citizens in attendance.

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From L to R: Janet Gallagher, Arlene Flisik, and Butch and Joy McIntyre

Joy and Butch McIntyre from Bayshore Gardens were at that meeting and also turned out on Friday. Butch said, "For 45 years I fished these waters and it was good, but now the fishing and wildlife are both in decline." 

For the hour and a half I was there, nearly one hundred times horns blew in solidarity, though there were a handful of passers-by who appeared to oppose the demonstration. 

Angelucci said she was happy with the efforts of those who turned out and that she was surprised at the high number of drive-by supporters.


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