BRADENTON -- At Thursday's Planning Commission Meeting, Members voted to recommend the BOCC approve a proposed 610 single-family community in northeast Manatee County. Approval will require a zoning change for the 235.25 acre parcel, from A (Agriculture) to PDR (Planned Development Residential) The recommendation won by a very slim 4 to 3 vote and will now go to the county commission for final consideration.
With little land left undeveloped along Rye Road, approvals for more sprawl continue to gather increasing amounts of criticism. Oddly enough, county officials, as well as developers, claim to be curbing sprawl by approving developments like Del Tierra.
The majority of communities built in east county have been experiencing an increase in density approvals every few years.
Built in the 90s, Mill Creek has less than one dwelling per acre. Years later, Country Creek development, with a density of 1.13, was built and later, the Rye Road Subdivision was added at 2.9 dwellings per acre. Del Tierra is proposing just under three dwellings per acre.
Caleb Grimes, attorney for the applicant, says urban sprawl is an argument to raise density. "We are doing our job, the Comp Plan calls for this. With the current infrastructure in place, higher density prevents sprawl."
Not everyone at the meeting agreed.
Tim Law said, "I have a number of concerns." Law is president of the Country Meadows Community Association, a community that has a designated connector road for the proposed Del Tierra development. "They said only 7 percent of the traffic will go through our development. I don't think so. We are a small community. you're asking for three times our density ... No one knew 610 houses would come."
"Our homeowners feel this will impair the safety of our kids at bus stops," Law went on to say. "What will be the impact on our schools, on a cumulative basis?" Law wanted to know where the water run-off would go. "Rye Rd. floods down at SR 64, and the river road bridge was built in 1963."
Manatee County EMS Chief Larry Luh also had some problems with the project. One of the requests by the applicant was to exempt the ordinance that any cul-de-sac with a street longer than 800 ft. to provide a turn-around. Thursday's vote excused that stipulation from the Commission's recommendation.
I asked Luh what he thought about the decision. He just pointed to the printed copy of the ordinance and said, "Read what it says," pointing to the verbiage of the ordinance.
There are many more times this project will have to go before the BOCC for approvals prior to the development becoming a reality; but if the last year's near-record number of approvals say anything, Del Tierra is likely to become a community.
The vote to recommend approval for the project was 4 to 3, with DeLesline, Horrigan and Rhoades dissenting. The three commissioners cited the number of residences, compatibility and/or density issues as their reasons.
The cure for sprawl will apparently continue to be building denser developments in rural areas.
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