Perida residents vow to join 44th Ave. extension fight

rdymond@bradenton.comFebruary 27, 2013 

MANATEE -- Residents from Sable Key, Sable Harbour, Fairfax, Highland Ridge, Wallingford and Manatee Oaks subdivisions have already voiced opposition to the proposed 44th Avenue extension.

Now, some Peridia residents are joining list of people who would like the major Manatee County government road building project to be reconsidered.

A standing-room-only crowd of 145 gathered in the Palm Room at Peridia Golf & Country Club Tuesday to discuss the project.

The most discussed fears included declining property values due to the proximity of the expanded road, noise pollution, safety for residents and children and, of course, increased traffic.

"With Peridia joining in, we now calculate the number of homes impacted in this area to be 1,700," said Loretto Sadkin, a spokeswoman for Peridia's extension opposition group.

Sadkin, who is helping to craft Peridia's mission statement, suggested the No. 1 goal was to urge the county to stop the road at U.S. Highway 301 and go no farther.

Failing that, addressing the impact of the road on all Peridia residents would be a fall-back position, she said.

A petition was handed out at the meeting and people seemed eager to sign.

Many agreed the Peridia effort would culminate with

Peridia residents wearing red for "stop" and showing up in great numbers at future Manatee County Commission meetings.

The 44th Avenue extension has been part of the county's comprehensive plan for more than 20 years and will connect Cortez Road on the west to Lakewood Ranch on the east.

The first phase of the roadway project is slated to begin next summer.

Transportation planners have told county commissioners that the roadway is essential to carry east-west traffic in an efficient manner.

The Peridia residents at the meeting with perhaps the most at stake in the project are Tony and Peggy Fowler.

The Fowler's home in the 4400 block of Muirfield Drive East sits extremely close to 45th Street East, which will be widened to four lanes in the second phase of the massive road project.

A huge irrigation ditch which now prevents cars from going off the road right into their bedroom, will be filled in as part of the roadway.

The Fowlers estimate southbound traffic might be 10 to 12-feet from their bedroom. Adding to their fears is that the thin wall between them and the two-lane road already there is predicted not to survive the road construction.

The county will probably not fund a new one, Peridia residents were told.

"It's really scary because already a man on a bike went off the road and into the ditch," Peggy Fowler said.

"With four lanes people will even go faster," said Tony Fowler, who is worried about his family's overall security.

"This was supposed to be our dream house," Peggy Fowler added.

One unidentified man in the meeting said, "That woman (Peggy Fowler) can put her arm on that wall from her bedroom."

Pete Martin, a homeowner in the 5200 block of 45th Street E., joined the protest.

He is concerned about the size of the chunk of land the county would need to purchase to widen 45th Street East on his side.

That chunk would include a lovely oak hammock with palmetto trees, which is one of the reasons Martin said he bought the property.

"It will also limit my access," Martin said. "With a divided highway, I won't be able to make a left hand turn out of my property."

Several residents stated at the meeting that they must make their Manatee County Commissioner, Vanessa Baugh, aware of their fears.

The meeting was held up a few moments at 2 p.m. for Baugh to arrive, but she did not make it.

"I texted her and she replied that she did not get the right time," said Rep. Greg Steube, who was at the meeting.

The county has scheduled an informational meeting at 6 p.m. March 20 at the Bradenton Area Convention Center in Palmetto to discuss phase two of the project.

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