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Neal Communities' Attempt to Overturn Stalemate on Robinson Farms Thwarted


BRADENTON -- At Thursday's special land use meeting, there was one particular issue that drew particular citizen ire. Over 300 signatures had been collected and passionate public testimony given in opposition to a comp plan request that had already been recommended against by commission staff.


The application to drastically increase density in an area that would negatively effect evacuation routes seemed like a no brainer, even without the massive public outpour of disapproval from the citizenry. However, this being Manatee County, such favor was good only for a 3-3 stalemate, but considering it was a Neal Communities application, it still smelled like a victory of sorts.

Not so fast. A motion was quickly made to reconsider the app at the next meeting and it carried. Word circulated that though Commissioner Getman would remain hospitalized, he would participate via cell phone, and one was inclined to believe that those in the know had suspected he'd be sympathetic to the applicants.


However, over the weekend, county attorney Sarah Schenk began to advise the commission that as Commissioner Getman would not be available, the vote should be reiterated andwould hold. Once yesterday's meeting was called to order, the item was inserted into the beginning of the agenda and Ms. Schenk went on to say that while under such circumstances, commissioners had the right to ask for a re-vote at the next scheduled hearing, it conflicted with Department of Community Affairs rules to consider an item from a previous transmittal and she therefore recommended closing the item.


Commission Chair Hayes seemed intent to follow Shenk's advice, much to the chagrin of Pat Neal, who kept attempting to speak, though public comment could not be given. He did eventually manage to convey through council that he wished to delay consideration until later in the agenda, but Schenk reiterated that DCA had given great leeway already, in saying that, were there more information to be presented or a full commission as there was not last Thursday, it would allow for the issue to be addressed straight off, as a separate issue, before actions on the day's series of transmittals were considered.


There was only one problem. Commissioner Brown was not yet been seated and without Getman, Neal would surely need at least the three positive votes it had previously. The item seemed to flounder, but shortly after Brown arrived, she made a motion for reconsideration of the app, to which Commissioner Bustle quickly seconded.


Seemingly for Brown's benefit, Shenk again explained the extreme danger in reopening the matter mid-meeting. Commissioner Hayes expressed concern that doing so would jeopardize the two and a half hours of work already on record and an even further detailed description of such risks were thoroughly explained.


One was given to the idea that the issue would now, finally sink into the abyss, while Commissioner Brown was even given the opportunity to withdraw her motion. Fat Chance; Brown and Bustle still voted for the reconsideration as it died 4-2, despite such apocalyptic warnings. It seemed like a hollow victory, something so patently wrong, being reluctantly labeled so only after such rabid infighting, but for 300 citizens, it was a triumph.


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