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Opponents of Lakewood Ranch Incorporation Hound Advocates to Debate

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- In the seemingly never-ending saga of whether or not Lakewood Ranch will be incorporated into a city,it would seem as though the proponents are on the run. After it was initially announced that the two sides were to debate, the group known as "Friends of Lakewood Ranch" who oppose incorporation, say the other side has been silent in 2011.

In what seemed like an attempt to ramrod the issue through, the developer-driven proponents made much fanfare of a feasibility study last summer by economist-for-hire Hank Fishkind that they claimed  demonstrated tremendous advantages in LWR becoming it's own city, rather than part of unincorporated Manatee County.

The Friends of LWR group quickly poked holes in many of the assumptions used in the study and were able to successfully call into question nearly every bit of data used and produced. The next step was to be a straw poll, which if overwhelmingly approved could send the issue to the legislature. However, in the midst of such public disagreement the poll, which they'd said they hoped to conduct before the end of 2010, has yet to be scheduled.

Meanwhile, the Friends have debunked the claimed endorsement of the feasibility study by Florida State University and brought to light a legislative memo from the Florida Legislative Committee on Intergovernmental Relations (LCIR) that reviewed a similar Fishkind study for Casey Key and found it lacking. Asked if he thought this might signal the end of the argument, the group's chairman Gary Berns said, "We would hope so, but this group has consistently brought this issue back, so we're going to continue to educate the people as to the actual facts."

The group will hold another public forum on Tuesday March 29 at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, 7 p.m.

RELATED ARTICLE: Editorial: Lakewood Ranch Incorporation May Not Be the Prudent Path


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