BRADENTON -- The number of residents and citizens groups are mounting; they have one goal in mind: to convince the Manatee County Commission that if they approve an application to build a massive towering development on one of the most environmentally sensitive parts of Sarasota Bay, there will be a price to pay.
On the south side of Tidy Island, just across a narrow channel that connects to Sarasota Bay, lies a 530-acre parcel of land called Long Bar Pointe.
In 2008, the county commission approved plans to build over 4,000 homes, plus 150,000 sq ft of commercial space. On August 6, Carlos Beruff, along with developer Larry Lieberman, will go before the Manatee County Commission and ask for that approval to be amended, allowing them to build what equates to a small town, complete with a hotel and marina.
Local residents, environmentalists, career fisherman and even some economists have united to challenge the proposed project.
Local residents reasonably believe that the over 3,600 proposed single and multi-family dwellings will add thousands of additional cars to the already crowded streets.
Environmentalists say the sea grass, salt water lagoons and sandbars that are the nesting grounds for hundreds of species of spawning fish, would never recover from the intended dredging. They also say the runoff from all of the concrete and fertilized landscape would be devastating to estuary life.
Included in the developer's plan is a marina with 300 berths, some of which will accommodate up to a 100 ft. vessel. Charter boat captains say there isn't any way a channel can be dredged to accommodate that large a craft and attempts to do so would be devastating to the local environment.
Local career fishermen argue that the eggs and small fish that occupy the marsh are food for larger fish that migrate to the Gulf of Mexico and are then eaten by the fish that end up on our plates. Many of those who make their living on the water say the fishing industry is already challenged with red tide and declining species and cannot afford additional downward pressure.
Other critics of the project have argued that the county's excessive blight, crumbling midtown and inner-city infrastructure will have to compete for county road and sewer dollars if the project is approved, and the liabilities surrounding projects like Long Bar Pointe could put further strain on the already shrinking budget.
"You can't build your way out of the current perils the county is faced with," says Barbara Angelucci, an organizer of one of the groups who are against the project.
But County Commissioners have a reputation of doing just that. As in many Florida counties, developers in Manatee get their way with the ones they helped to get (and remain) elected.
Carlos Beruff has over 40 different corporations assigned to his Medallion Homes address at 2212 58th Avenue East, in Bradenton. He doesn't hesitate to send the maximum $500 contribution from as many of his associated companies as needed to guarantee the "yes" vote from which he has so often benefited.
We have elected officials that possess many talents, but seeing past their own self-interest doesn't appear to be one of them. Their world, it seems, is built around illusions and facades, not service and duty; many of them continue to believe in, "build it and they'll come," regardless of what will be left in the wake.
But an increasing amount of citizens are making an effort to hold leadership accountable when their decisions cause quality of life and property to deteriorate.
The list of groups that are on board opposing the project are from all locations and occupations throughout the county. Here is a partial list.
- ManaSota 88 (Letter)
- Manatee Citizens for Responsible Government (MCRG)
- Bay Life Preservers
- Save Our Shores (SOS)
- Longboat Key Communities
- Florida Native Plant Society
- Save Our Manatee Coastline
- Save Our Bays (SOB)
- Sierra Club
- Stop the Skyway Resort Project
At 5:00 p.m., Thursday, July 11, citizens and community leaders will be meeting at the Fisherman's Hall, 4515 124th St. West Cortez. Carlos Beruff was invited to answer questions and share with the community his plans for Long Bar Pointe and has accepted the invitation.
What you can you do?
Email your county commissioners (click here if you have integrated email, or copy and paste the following addresses into your email's "to:" line: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)
Request a meeting with your county commissioner
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