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Country Dwellers Say No to Country Plaza


BRADENTON -- At Thursday's Manatee County Planning Commission meeting, residents from East Manatee showed-up to protest against the rezoning of a 5.48 acre parcel of property off State Road 70 and Verna Bethany Road, Bradenton (see map). The applicant for the property,which is currently zoned General Agriculture, is requesting a rezoning to build a small, countr-style center with a gas station, store, shops and services. The only problem is a large majority of their would-be customers say they don't want it.

East county residents said the rezoning from A (general Agriculture) to PDC (Planned Development Commercial) is what they moved away from and liked being away from the traffic congestion and excessive lights. 

Jason Warring was the first to speak. Warring said, "At the neighborhood meeting, there were 40 people, 6 approved and 35 opposed … and building this would hurt the property value, not help." Warring added, "It is not the same as in the city. People don't want stores around them out here."

James Taylor said, "This parcel of property first went on the books back in 1926. I agree with my neighbors; we don't want it. It's not compatible."

Rachel Larkin said, "Traffic on State Road 70 is a major problem, and there will be noise." 

Andrew Hill told the commission, "We moved out there to get away from the drugs and crime, to find some room. And gas tanks leak sooner or later and will get into our ground water."

Misty Servia, Planning Department Manager for King Engineering, representing the project, said, "I would like to address some of the concerns. We must blend in with the neighborhood. That's is the number one thing we do, and we hope to improve some of the highway's safety issues. When I went out there, I met two couples, and they loved the idea."

Servia said, "Things will be small scale, no big stores, just a few pumps, no big RaceTrac. Now residents have to go 20 miles, round trip, to get to a store."

But none of the dozen or so residents that showed up agreed, and said there is a store at Loraine road, only six miles away and another about the same distance in the other direction. None of the residents supposedly supporting the project were there in support at the meeting.

Commissioner Mendez said, "State Road 70 will most likely be the next east/west throughway and for anyone living off of SR 70, they're going to have traffic, that's a fact." He noted that he was going to vote for the project.  

The meeting was similar to the "Waterline Road" project, just weeks back, where all of the residents at the meeting were completely against a development moving in on their tranquil country life, yet the planning commission voted to recommend it, this time 5 to 2, Bedford and Conerly dissent. Both commissioners said they respected the life residents had become accustom to. 


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