Petition opposes Long Bar Pointe
MANATEE COUNTY | SUBMITTED
The proposed Long Bar Pointe development runs
along Manatee County’s western shore and is outlined in blue in this photo.
CORTEZ - Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH) Treasurer and former County Commissioner Jane Von Hahmann is among those circulating and promoting a petition drive opposing the proposed Long Bar Pointe development.
The massive project would be located on Manatee County’s western shoreline and along El Conquistador Parkway in Bradenton, south of the 75th Street West roundabout.
The opposing Save Manatee’s Coastline petition can be found online at www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-manatee-coastline, and reads as follows: “We petition all members of the Manatee Board of County Commissioners to vote against the Long Bar map amendment – PA-13-03, the county-wide text amendment – PA-13-06, and any future similar amendments that would allow construction in the costal high hazard area as defined by FEMA and any other area that would result in damage to or removal of mangrove trees or sea grass.”
The development team led by Larry Lieberman and Carlos Beruff is requesting changes to the county’s comprehensive plan that would include a change to mixed-use zoning (the most development intensive designation permitted by the County) and the loosening of existing environmental protections. Such changes would allow for the construction of 1,086 single-family homes, 1,687 low-rise multi-family homes, 844 high-rise multi-family homes, a 300-room hotel, a 300-berth marina, two office buildings, a shopping center, specialty retail space and a conference center.
The proposed marina is of particular concern, as its construction would require the destruction of large tracts of coastal mangroves and sea grass that currently provide breeding grounds and living habitat for a multitude of fish and wildlife.
As of Sunday morning, 265 people had signed the petition. According to petition webpage, the goal is to secure at least 500 signatures prior to the August 6 commission meeting, when the county is expected to hand down its decision on this matter.
Von Hahmann is part of group of concerned citizens who planned to address commissioners at their June 6 meeting. Tropical Storm Andrea cut that meeting short, giving opponents additional time to prepare their arguments against a coastal development that among other things would erase one of the largest remaining tracts of mangrove habitats on Sarasota Bay.
As a FISH board member, von Hahmann is particularly concerned about the impact the proposed marina would have on Cortez, its commercial fishing industry and the men and women whose livelihoods depend on the health of Sarasota Bay and its marine inhabitants.
In her e-mail note that accompanied her request to sign the petition, von Hahmann said approval of the development plan would “significantly change the face of the Manatee County's shoreline in Sarasota Bay and do irreparable damage to the mangrove forest and sea grasses in Sarasota Bay.”
After pointing out that the Remember Sarasota Bay organization has designated the area in question as a Florida Outstanding Water and an Estuary of National Significance, von Hahmann’s wrote, “This shoreline serves as the nursery for the juvenile fish which support and maintain the economic base for both sport and commercial fisherman. The mangroves offer the protection needed to house some of the best bird rookeries, for roseate spoonbills, great white egrets, blue herons and many others, as well as providing flood protection to upland properties.”
In her note, she also mentioned that the site in question lies within the coastal evacuation area and approximately two-thirds of the proposed development lies within the coastal high hazard area in terms of threat from hurricanes.
Concerns also have been raised about the ability to properly insure the development against hurricane damage due to pending changes in the state-funded Citizens property insurance program. Opponents also question what impact the proposed development would have on Cortez Road traffic leading to and from Anna Maria Island.
Holmes Beach City Commissioner Judy Titsworth briefly shared her concerns on this matter during the June 11 commission meeting and the ManaSota-88 organization and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program have also voiced opposition to the plan.