BRADENTON — During Wednesday's Bradenton City Council meeting, citizen commenters addressed the council's approval of a planned residential subdivision on Perico Island that would involve the removal of wetlands in the area, arguing that the project is in violation of city environmental codes and that the council should rescind approval.
Former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash and retired city planner Larry Grossman claimed that the plan for the Harbor Sound subdivison violates several citations from the city's own Comprehensive Plan. McClash asked the council "to take a second look" in order to see if wetland rules and regulations were followed.
"In my opinion they were not followed," he said.
The plan is for four houses to be built on the project's developed lot, part of a 40 acre property owned by Neal Communities. McClash says the issue is because the application for the subdivision encompasses all of the property's 40 acres, the city must rescind the subdivision application and then reconsider it as a planned development, which he says would help ensure that the remaining 36 acres of the property is never developed. (Pat Neal, whose family would be building the project's four homes for themselves, has said he has no plans to develop the rest of the property.)
Many of the commenters' stated concerns were given in a letter sent to city council members in June, a month after the Final Subdivision Plat and Site Plan Permit Application for the project were approved by the council. Among the city regulations which McClash and Grossman contend the project is in violation of:
Policy 5.2.3 Wetland Preservation: "No development of any kind shall be permitted within any designated wetland area except for an elevated boardwalk or gazebo that may be permitted by the City."
Policy 5.2.4 Wetland Protection: "Protection of all wetlands in the City including adjacent environmentally sensitive lands shall be to prohibit, to the greatest extent practical, any development within twenty‐five (25) feet of all designated wetlands ..."
Policy 5.2.6 Environmentally Sensitive Lands – Protection: "Protection of environmentally sensitive lands shall be to prohibit, to the greatest extent
practical, any development within twenty‐five (25) feet of all designated wetlands ..."
Policy 5.2.7 Conservation Designation: "The Future Land Use Element and Map shall require a conservation designation to be placed upon all wetlands ..."
During the meeting, McClash also referred to a land use regulation, under 8.4.2 Subdivision of Land, which states that a "a survey showing all trees to be removed (for a subdivision or planned development project) which require a permit shall be submitted" - which is required for the removal of protected trees such as red, white and black mangrove trees - to the city council. He advised he has not been able to find a tree survey for the project, and asked the council to provide one.
McClash also asked the council to put the project on the regular agenda at a future meeting, which would allow a full presentation to be given as well as a public hearing, which have not yet occurred as approval of the subdivision went through the city council's consent agenda from a May meeting.
During his turn at the dais, Grossman said the area in contention, which has already seen development, "has been reduced to a thin veneer of green, and to think that even that would be removed is just beyond belief. Grossman added: "the important thing is, it's not consistent with the law."
Helen Jo Williams of the Manatee Sierra Club's Natural Resources Committee also pleaded the council to reconsider the proposal, calling mangroves an "economic lifeline" of Florida. "The more we destroy them, the more we destroy our lifeline," she added.
City Director of Planning and Community Development Tim Polk, speaking during department comments, said he would be "correcting some inaccuracies made during public comments" in a letter to Mayor Poston. Polk did not have further comment immediately after the meeting's adjournment.
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