BRADENTON – Developers are seeking a major change to approved plans on Sarasota Bay in the southwest corner of Manatee County. Long Bar Pointe was already going to be a major coastal development after the county commission approved plans to build over 4,000 homes, plus 150,000 sq ft of commercial space in 2008. If developers get their way, the property will now include a major resort and marina.
The Berrington Group's Larry Lieberman and Medallion Homes' Carlos Beruff hope to build a a 300-berth marina that would accommodate boats up to a 100-feet, as well as a 300-room luxury hotel. The property, located near the IMG Academy on El Conquistador Parkway, would rival Marina Jack's in Sarasota.
Commissioners were set to vote on the project at last Thursday's land use meeting, but decided after some debate to table the issue, continuing it until August 6, when the meeting was cut short because of
Tropical Storm Andrea.
County staff have recommended that the proposal not be approved, citing environmental concerns. The project would destroy as much as 40 acres of mangrove forests, while dredging (and likely continually re-dredging) a canal through nearby sea grass. Nearly 300 acres of the project are also designated Coastal High Hazard area.
Earlier in that same meeting, commissioners approved the creation of an “Urban Service Area” that would relax development requirements in a larger area which included the development. The action passed 5-2 with Commissioners DiSabatino and Gallen dissenting. DiSabatino expressly argued for the coastal area not to be included.
Despite staff objections, the heavily-pro development Manatee Planning Commission recommended the plans for approval.
The county commission also continued a proposed “text amendment” to the county's comprehensive plan that would have reduced requirements on projects 100-acres or more, located on a coastal line, adjacent to navigable waters and on an arterial roadway, that included “a demonstration of a public benefit.” County staff also have recommended that it not be approved.
Lieberman has owned the property for the last 13 years. Last year, he brought Carlos Beruff of Medallion Homes on board. Lieberman has been a generous supporter of the Manatee County Commission, funneling at least $17,000 to Commissioners Whitmore, Bustle, Benac and DiSabatino.
Beruff has been a strong supporter of nearly every commissioner on the board, with the exception of Commissioner Michael Gallen, the lone member of the commission not to have received support from either Beruff or Lieberman.
Many members of the community showed up at last Thursday's meeting to voice opposition to the plan. A group of over 150 have joined a Facebook page, where they hope to build a petition to present to commissioners. Some are boating enthusiasts and charter fishing captains who say that the destruction caused by the dredging would be devastating to the related tourism.
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