BRADENTON -- The Rye Road Subdivision is coming back before the county commission and citizens are no more happy with the new plan for the phase, than they were with its predecessor. Rye Road LLC is seeking to add 23.4 acres and 50 additional sites to the project, in addition to the 100 which were already approved by the county commission last June. Residents young and old say it threatens their way of life, while setting up neighbors for potential conflict as a new "cookie-cutter" development clashes with agricultural land and all the clucks, moos and oinks that come along with it.
On Tuesday, the Manatee County Planning Commission voted 6-1 to recommend the application. Staff said that while the planned development had some drawbacks, it seemed to reflect current trends in development, where density was increasing in even in rural areas. They applauded the developer for holding a public meeting with residents and said that there were even some improvements in the new plan, which while bigger, eliminated a controversial 800-plus foot cul de sac that had raised concerns about safety when the first plan was approved. But while all seemed sunny after the staff and applicant reps presented, residents offered a different picture.
Julie Spicer, a neighboring resident, noted that she wasn't invited to the recent meeting between developers because she lived just outside the 500-foot radius they used. She wanted to say that she didn't feel the development was keeping with character with the community. Her young son, Stevie Spicer also spoke, saying that he didn't think a "giant housing development" was good for the community, noting that he was learning to ride a horse and didn't want to "get hit by a car" as development and traffic increased. His father, John Spicer, also spoke of the character of the area, saying it would be "a square peg going into a round hole."
Annette Altmeter said it would be "the beginning of the end of their way of life." She said that the 5-acre lots surrounding it provided for a way of life that was threatened by the sort of dense development being proposed. Altmeter said there were farms and horses and a part of history at stake. Grayson Altmeter, another young child speaking before the commission, said that the development would be "like weeds," one springing up after another. He asked the board not to recommend the application.
The residents complained that such a development would be setting residents up for conflict with their would-be neighbors. Some residents had goat farms and spoke of cattle that would routinely wander from property to property. One asked how many homeowners would be okay when her 50 chickens woke them up at 5 a.m., or when the smell of the pigs permeated evening relaxation on their lanais.
Beth Golden said that she only received notice of the meeting on the Saturday before the Tuesday it was going to be held, and that it wasn't enough time to find a sub for work. She said that she would have 20 houses up against her property line, abutted by goats. "I think all of us are willing to work with developers to some extent," said Golden. "If they could have it fronted by 5 acre parcels or maybe a park?" Golden said that her and her husband moved to the area because of the way of life it offered, explaining that her children were active in 4H. Golden said that Bradenton "really could have it all," developing urban areas where appropriate, while still preserving the historically agricultural areas and the lifestyle they offer residents.
Residents also spoke of how difficult traffic had become at Rye Road and 64, especially when Gene Witt Elementary was letting out for the day. Flooding concerns were also raised regarding Water Line Road, which they said was already prone to flooding, sometimes being rendered unusable for a full day after a heavy rain. Staff said that Water Line was already to standard and that traffic concerns were overstated. They noted that Water Line was a "thoroughfare" road which was only operating at about 10 percent capacity, and that while they were looking at that general area, it didn't even warrant a traffic light at this time.
"I don't want you to think that I'm not sympathetic to your situation", said Commissioner George Mendez, relating the story of how as a kid, his father fought Hillsborough County to keep their home rural. "You've got to understand that most of this has already been approved," he explained, noting that they were just considering the expansion. "We're sympathetic to your cause, but growth is a naturally-occurring phenomenon, and you can't do much about it."
The applicatio will next come before the Manatee County Commission at a future land use meeting.
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