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Planning Commission Recommends Raven Crest Increase Despite Concerns over Flooding


BRADENTON -- The Manatee County Planning Commission voted in favor of approval for a plan to increase development sites at the planned Raven Crest development on SR 64 in northeast Manatee County. Several citizens appeared before the commission to state concerns about flooding, as the development sits on higher ground which has historically drained toward the west, where there is no county-maintained drainage site. 


Raven Crest is a small development that was originally planned for 31 sites. It sits just west of Grayhawk Landing, on the north side of SR 64, bordered by Upper Manatee River Road to the north. The new plan would provide for 38 sites, eliminating common areas and facilities, rearranging the roads and doing away with an inter-neighborhood tie-in. The applicant said that the changes reflected the current market, but noted that while some amenities were eliminated, the houses were still considered "low density" at just over 2 units per acre.

Sam Caruso (he and brother live in the area bordering the proposed development) said he was not opposed to development there, but has experienced flooding and wanted to see plans to assure that runoff from new development does not compound the issue

Louise Caruso echoed those concerns, saying that the development, being on higher ground, will almost certainly impact runoff. "The roads would be almost like canals flowing into our property."

Mark Mullin whose property is also adjacent to Raven Crest, said he was concerned over putting in that much housing without a turning lane to the development, especially since there will eventually be a bridge over upper Manatee River Road. "… and with that bridge will come increased traffic to our area," said Mullin, "and I'd like to see that easements are big enough to put sidewalks in."

Mullin wanted to know what the buffer would look like. "I'm gonna share 1,320 feet with that property. I've been living there since 1982, my parents live nearby. I grew up there, and there has been some flooding. There's gonna be 13 houses bordering my property from about 60 feet."

Mullin said that the small lot size, dense development and lack of common areas were also questionable. Water management, privacy and security were all concerns that they'd like to be able to discuss with the developer.

Darryl Lambert, who's lived in the area for 4 years, said he moved there with the intention of living out his years on the property. Lambert was likewise concerned with dense development and a lack of common areas. "We don't have to put people on top of each other," said Lambert. "There's plenty of land around. Why do this kind of development, just for the buck? These developers can still make money on 30 or 40 lots." 

"How long have you been here?, asked Commissioner Bedford rhetorically. "I've been here since '91. Have I been out there? Yea, once or twice," he chuckled. "I've been out there more than you, as has every one up here." Bedford continued to berate Lambert, telling him he was "wrong" and that he wasn't going to let him stand up there and speak negatively about developers. 

Bedford conceded that the property owners to the west would seem to have valid concerns. Staff responded by showing flood plane maps, which indicated that the project did indicate a flood plane compensation area within the property that complied with the impacted areas of the delineated 25-year flood plane map. 

Commissioner Mendez said that he could appreciate the concerns of the property owners, but not enough to change his vote. He did want to state that he felt eliminating neighborhood tie ins was something he'd like to see staff attempt to avoid. "A lot of times we force people to get in a car when they're just going down the street," said Mendez, "because there's no tie ins between neighboring developments for sidewalks or anything."

Commissioner Rhoades asked whether the increase from 31 to 38 had any negative impact in staff's opinion. Staff responded that there really wasn't a different in flood plane runoff planning between the two.

Joel Christian from environmental noted that there was no plan for a wall at this time and that a combination of canopy trees and other smaller varieties would provide the buffer. He also said that while the buffer was reduced from 20 to 10 feet, the same vegetation plan would be used. 

The application will now go before the Manatee County Commission at a future land use meeting for final consideration. 


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