BRADENTON – At Wednesday's Bradenton City Council meeting, citizens addressed the 40-acre Perico Island owned by Neal Communities at Public Comments for the second consecutive time.
TBT publisher and former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash, who spoke at the BCC's last meeting regarding the topic, argued at the dais that the approved permits for the development – which were granted by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, or SWFMD – don't comply with the city's comprehensive plan, and that as such, city approval of the permits is illegal.
McClash also argued that the approval "sets a very bad precedent," as "this sets the ball in play for taking out the mangroves" in the Long Bar Pointe area.
Regarding the wetlands set to be removed by the approved development, McClash said, "We only have a few of these areas left to preserve ... there's no sense in destroying more wetlands when your Comp Plan says you need to preserve it."
Sandra Ripberger, Chair of the Manatee Sarasota Conservation Committee, cited a recent Sarasota Bay Estuary Program economic valuation study which indicated that the public places a value of $8 billion on coastal mangroves.
Mark Coarsey, a fisherman from Cortez Village representing the Manatee County chapter for Freedom for Commercial Fishing, told the council that the Harbor Sound project would impact local fishermen's ability to make a living off the wetland aquatic life.
Speaking after public comments ended, councilman Bemis Smith said the council would likely discuss what Tim Polk at its last meeting called inaccuracies regarding the alleged violations of the city's Comp Plan at the next city council meeting.
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