In 2008, the Manatee County Commission authorized construction of 4,100 dwellings and 150,000 square feet of commercial space on Long Bar Pointe -- and, for their part, the private developers agreed to protect their portion of the environmentally sensitive shoreline, with its fascinating bird life and outstanding fishing opportunities.
This remarkable shoreline is not simply "Old Florida." It is what gives Manatee County a unique advantage over nearby places when it comes to attracting residents and tourists who respect natural beauty.
Now the developers want to drastically change the deal they negotiated by adding various commercial structures, including a 250-room hotel and a large boat basin in a coastal area that is particularly susceptible to damage from floods and hurricanes.
In carrying out this speculative venture, the developers also would do what experts characterize as irreparable damage to the seabed and associated mangrove trees in a way which, under the terms of the proposal, could be replicated at other shoreline locations worthy of conservation.
According to published reports, the Long Bar Pointe developers contributed these amounts to the most recent campaigns of the following commissioners: Bustle, $9,500; Chappie, $7,000; DiSabatino, $9,500; Baugh, $500; Whitmore, $9,500; and Benac, $9,500.
Despite the appearance of a possible conflict of interest, Florida law does not preclude these elected officials from voting on the revised proposal; how they vote will indicate whether or not each is looking after the best interests of all his or her constituents. I say this as a longtime dedicated Republican.
Regardless of your political affiliation, don't be a passive bystander; make your own views as a concerned citizen known to the county commissioners and please attend the Aug. 6 commission meeting to reinforce your beliefs. Otherwise, narrow-gauged special interests may prevail.