CORTEZ – Developer Marshall Gobuty has the green light to proceed with Hunters Point Resort and Marina.
Manatee County commissioners voted 6-0 on Thursday in favor of the development plans and rezoning requests Gobuty and his team presented for a waterfront resort community on Cortez Road.
Gobuty is now approved for 86 single-story cottage homes and 62 two-story, lodge-style units for use as hotel rooms and/or permanent waterfront residences. Hunters Point will also include a bistro, clubhouse, retail space, a 17-slip private marina, 31 parallel boat docks, a private boat ramp and a slip for an electric water taxi.
None of the structures will exceed the existing 35-foot height limit, and the commission approved Gobuty’s request to decrease the waterfront setbacks from 30 feet to 15 feet from the canal, which he owns.
The energy-efficient cottages will be connected to the traditional power grid but built to Net Zero Energy standards that significantly reduce outside energy consumption through the use of solar panels and power walls that store solar-generated electricity.
Offering approximately 500 feet of air-conditioned interior space and driveways long enough to store a boat trailer, the cottages will be built to withstand 200 mph winds and be elevated a foot above the flood plain.
Gobuty’s attorney, Caleb Grimes, was quick to address concerns about Gobuty’s ownership of the canal that surrounds the property on three sides. The canal is used by several neighboring property owners, many of whom have canal-side docks that rest on Gobuty’s submerged land. The canal connects with the Intracoastal Waterway near the Seafood Shack.
Grimes said Gobuty has no objections to the existing docks and on Wednesday he requested that a declaration of intent and clarification of rights be filed with the Clerk of the Court’s Office reflecting his position. The declaration will remain effective regardless of who owns or controls the development, protecting neighboring dock owners, present and future.
Grimes said a previous property owner, Frank Cipriani, had the man-made canals dredged out of dry land; their ownership transferred to subsequent owners, including Gobuty.
Commissioner Carol Whitmore asked Gobuty and Grimes to informally pledge not to trim the tops off the mangroves that line the canal because birds need them to nest in. Gobuty said he liked the mangroves and has no plans to remove them or trim them.
Regarding the cottages being used as vacation rentals, Whitmore noted the Cortez Overlay zoning designation contains no rental restrictions and state law doesn’t allow the county to prohibit them.
Grimes said some cottages may be used as rentals, but they are intended to be single-family homes.
“These are not tiny houses. They are full houses designed for people who don’t want to have a big house and big yard and can be near their boat,” he said.
Commissioners Betsy Benac and Robin DiSabatino said they thought the small houses were “cool” and they praised the developer’s emphasis on energy efficiency.
There was little discussion Thursday about traffic, but during the Planning Commission’s preliminary review it was estimated the resort community would generate approximately 600 car trips per day.
During public comment, Cortez resident and businesswoman Karen Bell was among those who praised Gobuty and his project. New Jersey Realtor James Robinson said he plans to be among the first to purchase a Hunters Point home as a full-time residence.
Nobody at Thursday’s meeting expressed opposition and DiSabatino said that was a first during her seven years on the commission.
Canal-side homeowner Rob Boyatt said he liked the project, but had some lingering concerns about his dock rights. When Grimes returned to the podium, he handed Boyatt a copy of the declaration.
Afterwards, Boyatt was asked if his dock concerns were satisfied.
“Yes. It seems like we are covered,” he said.
After receiving congratulations from his staff, friends and supporters, Gobuty said, “I’m ecstatic about the opportunity. I really believe it will be the future of home building because millennials think about sustainability. Fifty-five-year-olds? Up until now, not so much, but this is going to deliver to our community the ability to understand, appreciate and take advantage of the technology we have. I really believe this is the beginning of a revolution in home building.”
When asked if it would be five or 10 years before construction began, Gobuty smiled and said, “Much sooner than that.”
Regarding others’ dock rights, he said, “That’s their home. Their docks across the water have no impact on us. We wouldn’t want them to impose upon us, so it’s not right for us to have leverage on them when it’s not necessary. The decision yesterday was to record it in advance of the hearing to put our money where our mouth is.”