MANATEE COUNTY -- Go to any Manatee County Board of Commissioners meeting and you will notice an ongoing trend. Citizens are showing up to loudly voice their opposition to major zoning and master plan changes, only to have their pleas fall on deaf ears.
Land use issues have been a hot item, as many applications seek to garner decisions ahead of the Amendment 4 referendum this fall, that would require public approval for comprehensive plan changes. The rush of contentious approvals has only increased citizen frustrations and now a coalition of neighborhood groups is banding together to try and pool their collective influence.
The Manatee Coalition for Responsible Government is a newly created group of residents from the following Manatee County communities: Carolina Landings; Tara Golf and Country Club; Mote Ranch; University Place; Palm-Aire; River Club; Tara Preserve and University Park Country Club.
Through their association, they aim to educate, advocate and lobby for responsible county government actions affecting quality of life, safety, and environmental issues in the county and to help elect public officials who embrace the shared needs and interests of these communities.
Member Jose Uranga said that common frustration has fueled the group's rise.
"The main catalyst for this coalition is a frustration with the Board of County Commissioners and an overall non-responsiveness to what we as citizens and neighborhoods have expressed to them," said Uranga. "A lot of our member communities have a specific issue that they are fighting, but there is a common thread I would say, in that they relate to public safety, transportation, the preservation of our environment, and our quality of life."
Uranga says that the group will interview all candidates for the county commission and discuss the group's expressed value statements so that MCRG can make an endorsement of candidates that they feel best share those values and will be willing to fight for them. The group hopes that the vast coalition of neighborhoods and their multiple individual HOA's can raise enough attention and funds for like minded candiates to help reshape the board.
"It takes four votes to get things done," said Urango. "We're hoping we can build support around those four common threads."
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