BRADENTON -- At Thursday's Manatee County Planning Commission Meeting, members voted to recommend approval for a proposed amendment to the county's Comprehensive Plan. The amendment would exclude coastal evacuations areas, as part of the Urban Service Area recently approved by the BOCC.
In 2011, the Florida Legislature passed the Community Planning Act. In it, they defined what qualifies as an "Urban Service Area" (USA). On 06/06/2013, the Manatee BOCC moved forward to adopt unincorporated parts of Manatee County, west of I-75 and south of the Manatee river, as a designated USA.
Projects in a designated USA are exempt from some high-level evaluations, meaning those once held to the criteria of a Development Regional Impact (DRI), will instead be reviewed by local governments and their local land use regulations.
Thursday's amendment proposal focuses on excluding low-lying coastal regions from the previously-adopted plan. These areas are known as the Coastal Evacuation Area (CEA), planners decided it necessary to divide the CEA from the USA,
A large amount of both attention and controversy was placed on the sensitive CEA, stemming from the recent approval for the Long Bar Pointe (LBP) project, proposed by developers Carlos Beruff and Larry Lieberman. Most of the LBP property is included in the Comprehensive Plan amendment.
The CEA exclusion equates to 3,660 acres, or 15 percent of the original USA proposal. CEA areas are susceptible to flooding and shore erosion from hurricanes and tropical storms, says county planner John Osborne.
If the proposed amendment is adopted, projects like Long Bar Pointe will have to meet a higher standard then what the USA originally called for. As a result, questions to the cost of flood insurance as well as other liabilities are likely to play a key role in future coastal developments.
On November 7, 2013, the proposed amendment will go before the Manatee County Commission for approval.
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