BRADENTON -- At Thursday's Manatee County Commission Land Use Meeting, a split board voted to adopt an amendment, which rolls back the recently-approved Urban Service Area map border from the shoreline. Properties in the Coastal Evacuation Areas (CEA), including the Cortez Fishing Village and the controversial Long Bar Pointe development, are no longer included.
On May 9, the Manatee County Planning Commission recommended transmittal of the Urban Service Area (USA) map to the BOCC. Then on June 6, the BOCC approved forwarding the map to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) and Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) for recommendations.
In SWFWMD's reply, they largely agreed with the many citizens who spoke at the June 6 meeting. Those speakers suggested that the shore needed more protection; that the threat of including Coastal Evacuation Area (CEA) was a safety issue that could put lives at stake; and that more consideration needed to be given to the rising sea levels.
On October 10, 2013, staff presented a revised USA map with the CEA having been excluded from the USA boundary. This reduced the original USA boundary from 24,406 acres to 20,744 acres.
Thursday's final 4-3 vote to approve the amendment didn't come without the expected battle from Commissioner Betsy Benac. Benac was adamant about not supporting the amendment, because by doing so, it would still leave larger projects like Long Bar Pointe, subject to possible DRI (Development Regional Impact) approval.
Benac said, "DRI's are a waste of time and money." adding, "I know, I made a lot of money doing them. If you want to waste money…"
Benac says there isn't anything that a DRI does that won't get done by the county government.
Benac suggested that there was an unfair public backlash toward developers, arguing at one point, "Any attempt to take away the rights for developers, would fill up this room."
Commissioners Bustle and Baugh joined Benac in opposing the amendment, while Commissioners Gallen, DiSabatino, Whitmore and Chappie supported it.
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