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County Commission approves Estates on Tillet Bayou project


BRADENTON - The Manatee County Commission voted 4-3 Tuesday night to approve a site plan for the Estates on Tillet Bayou project despite the objections of Terra Ceia Island residents.

Voting for the plan were commissioners Ron Getman, Gwendolyn Brown, Larry Bustle and Donna Hayes. Commissioners John Chappie, Carol Whitmore and Joe McClash voted against it.

The plan passed with a stipulation that the roads in Estates on Tillet Bayou cannot have a gate, though the roads will be private. The developer, Jack Jones, agreed to the stipulation.

Jones said he was satisfied. "I think we got a fair hearing, and the land-use code was employed. We have every intention of developing it," he said of the land.

Tom Reese, the attorney for the Terra Ceia residents, said one of the options would be to "go across the street" to Circuit Court and file suit. "It's late in the night and it just happened, and we're going to have to think about it."

Jim Miller and his wife Sandra said they were disappointed, and that more consideration should have been given to a local fisheries business on the island that she said would be damaged by the new development.

The five-hour meeting included presentations by Jim Dye, the attorney for Jones, and several experts who said that the new development was compatible with Terra Ceia and that the environmental impacts would be limited. Of the more than 60 residents, most wearing identical T-shirts, who were present, a number lined up at the podium to express their disagreement to county commissioners. A majority of the residents were still present when the vote was taken at 10:30 p.m.

Residents cited the potential impact on the environment, especially Tillet Bayou, but also on the wildlife in the area. The plan calls for two piers to extend into the water, but the very shallow water is only suitable for boats with less than 18 inches of draught, so anyone buying the "waterfront" lots with the piers will not be able to dock a motorboat there.

People also expressed concerns about density, the potential overuse of roads by new residents, stormwater runoff, the impact on the community as a whole and the size of the lots.

Terra Ceia resident Frank Alfonso had been hopeful before the meeting, but he was unhappy after the vote ended, especially with Brown. "I really thought that the chairman was going to vote our way, but she didn't," he said. "But, life goes on and we'll go to the next step."


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