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Parrish Residents Back Again to Defend Their Ground


The 25th Street Neighborhood outside of the Manatee

County Admin. Bldg. in downtown Bradenton

BRADENTON -- "We are the 25th Street neighborhood," erupted in unison from the group. They had a look of commitment about them you wouldn't attempt to disrupt. There were a few different groups and many arguments against the proposed development, but all were in solidarity about fighting to save what they have worked so hard to preserve; a safe, quiet and natural lifestyle. 


What the "25th Street neighborhood" was rejecting at Thursday's BOCC land use meeting was a permit requested by an applicant, Shunn-Shion Chung, who wants to build 19 residential homes on an 11.9 acre site between 25th Street East and approximately 2,380 feet east of 80th Avenue East, in Parrish. 


Their legal council, Patricia A Petruff, of Dye, Deitrich, Petruff and St. Paul, PL. claimed there was no reason to deny her client his permit. Petruff said, "There is a 25 percent reduction in the number of homes (from the previous proposal), the roadway network stayed the same, there are larger lots and the water retention area is larger." She said it was all within compliance and no special approval is required for the comprehensive plan. Petruff added, "A 1.6 density is a low density, and the land development code supports the comprehensive plan."


Petruff then characterized the applicant's intentions as noble, and said the project would not take away from the quality of the neighborhood, and that some of the original properties were actually smaller then some of the applicant's. Petruff also suggested "Day Springs," a heavily wooded 100-acre camp on 80th Avenue East, was in the same league as a hotel, because there were many small recreation buildings that had overnight accommodations. 


The opponents felt that was about as much of a mischaracterization as they could take and got a little vocal. It was just one of the two or three times the Parrish residents got animated, each time, the chair, Commissioner Carol Whitmore, asked for silence. "We have a court reporter here, and it's important to not respond," she said and the groups abided. 


Planner Katie Labarr concurred with the applicant's council that the applicant had complied with all of the requests that planning staff had asked of them. Commissioner Joe McClash voiced how the commission had never had any complaints with the Day Springs camp and didn't think it was fair to compare it with a hotel. He said, "It's the same as NW Bradenton (referring to the natural preserved appearance), we need to walk the talk." and added that this decision was going to affect the community. Commissioner Robin DiSabatino said, "You're dumping more traffic on a road already tough to navigate. We are preserving old Florida. Once you allow this, you are allowing all of the other properties to sell off."


Parrish resident Kerry Penta

The list of opponents are too many to mention. It started with Dick Eckenrod, who said, "The plan is not consistent. Green, natural, open and quiet describes 25th Street."


Ann Lion said, "The 100 acres isn't a hotel. The history is Mr. Chung was denied in 2002 after he purchased." Kerry Penta, president of Parkwood Lakes Homeowners Association added, "I've had seven years at Parkwood lakes, 175 lots, that's a lot of people, a lot of votes, we are opposed to the zoning."


Mr Penta suggested, "Maybe this is the time to run for Bustle's seat." He said he couldn't believe how Commissioner Bustle was just turning his back on the people of his district. Penta said that maybe it was time for the commissioner to take care of the other people of Parrish too. I asked him if that was a conformation to his candidacy? He said "yes it is." 


There was Elista Gerace and her husband Joseph, both retired from a Post Master General positions of regional post offices. There was Mr. Patrick O'keefe, Charles Hanes, Liz Durazi, and they went on and on, all making fine points and taking apart some the assumptions the council for the applicant made.


Making points about the hazardous S turn in the road, the periled school bus stop, and Judy Hat talked about the most recent person hit on the dangerous curve who almost died as a result. One after another, they all spoke to how the neighborhood couldn't handle any of the congestion the 40 to 60 additional cars the proposed development would bring with it.


There was no doubt that those who came to defend the way of life they had moved there for, weren't going to take it sitting down. I asked If they were coming back on Dec. 1. They all said, yes, and promised there would be even more of them then. One of the residents asked, "I wonder if Bustle would let someone come in his neighborhood and ruin it? I don't think so. None of them would!" 


Commissioners were completely exhausted from question after question and answer after answer with little direction. McClash, DiSabatino and Gallen seemed sincerely sympathetic with the residents, Whitmore went back and forth, struggling with all of the load this issue was carrying. Chappie appeared concerned, but the residents said they couldn't depend on him, that he didn't sound sincere and that they were disappointed in Bustle and Hayes. After speaking to 25 to 30 of the residents over the break for lunch, there was something I realized -- there are a lot of things you don't do without a fight.          


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