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Country Dwellers Succeed in Keeping Shopping Plaza at Bay


BRADENTON -- The battle for country dwellers to stay out of the city mix was continued from the August 8 Land Use meeting because residents opposed a proposed gas station, building height, fence and septic tank, while commissioners had hoped that the details could be worked out by the applicant.

At Thursday's BOCC meeting, the applicant returned, agreed to scratch the pumps and lowered the proposed three-story building down to two. Residents, however, weren't impressed, and insisted it be built elsewhere. In an unusual twist, the residents got their way.

Misty Servia, Planning Department Manager for King Engineering said, "We agreed to build a school bus shelter, enhance the landscape, lower the height of the building, reduce the sign and take out the pumps."

But that didn't satisfy any of the Verna Bethany Road residents who live off of SR 70, in east Manatee County. 

"We do not want this property rezoned. How far do we have to move to get away from shops?" asked Irene Rhodes.

Valerie Finnegan said, "You didn't address the traffic, crime and violence," adding, "I work five days a week in Lakewood Ranch. I pick-up what I need then. There is a difference in mentality here. Yours is one of convenience; we have one of stars, quiet and nature."

Finnegan displayed pictures of six different plazas in a similar setting and not far from the proposed site; all with one vacant store after another. Finnegan then referred to the request by the applicant to grant special approval to extend the commercial structure from 3,000 sq. ft. to 30,000 sq. ft. "That's the size of two Walgreens," Finnegan argued.

Commissioner's comments began to reflect the views of the residents. They also believed the project was far from compatible with the neighborhood; that is, except for Commissioners Benac and Bustle.

Commissioner Whitmore said, "I am a big supporter of business, but this doesn't meet compatibility."

Commissioner DiSabatino said, "A 30,000 sq.ft. building on a septic tank - no."

Bustle said, "I didn't hear one thing that didn't comply with the Comp Plan. If you don't like the Comp Plan, then we should change it." Benac agreed. 

A motion to deny the project was approved, 5-2, Bustle and Benac dissenting.


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