MANATEE -- Farm families turned up with protest signs Thursday to try to protect their mostly rural neighborhood from a proposed housing development.
But after hearing their complaints, the Manatee County Planning Commission gave preliminary approval for a rezoning to allow construction of the Rye Road Subdivision.
"It's not particularly appropriate we have all that development there in an agricultural area," Louise Caruso, of the 11900 block of Upper Manatee River Road, told the board about the subdivision near the intersection of Rye Road East and Waterline Road.
Most of the site borders large agriculturally-zoned properties of five acres of more; part of it abuts an undeveloped area in Rye Wilderness Subdivision, a planned residential development with a minimum lot size of 21,780 square feet, county documents said.
Plans called for changes to a previously-approved preliminary site plan, adding about 23 acres to a previously approved 35 for a little more than 58 acres; and adding 50 lots to a previous 102, for a total of 152 single-family detached residences, county records said.
The company also added an entrance to the project off Rye Road, records showed.
Darrell Lambert, a resident who also lives in the 11900 block of Upper Manatee River Road, said he's seen similar pristine neighborhoods "go downhill" because of overzealous development.
"You guys are supposed to be representing us, not just the business aspect," he said.
One resident said she typically has six inches of standing water on her property all summer, and had recently started a hog farm, "which I'm sure the neighbors won't like."
The area has "a recorded history of flooding," especially during intense storms, said Tom Gerstenberger, manager of the county's stormwater engineering division.
However, Scott Rudacille, representating developer Medallion Home, said the project was appropriate because the area is meant to be a mix of suburban and agricultural development.
The county is planning for a transition over 20 years from mostly agricultural use, and has already granted a number of approvals for planned developments east of the site in question, Rudacille said.
"We think it's consistent with the plan, and consistent with the area," he told the board.
Still, Rudacille said the developer would try to work with residents to resolve some of their concerns.
The project now will go to the Manatee County Commission for final approval.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.com.