TERRA CEIA -- Development plans for 41 acres on this northern Manatee County island received a more positive reception Tuesday than one presented to this close-knit community for the same property four years ago.
Thirty residents and property owners gathered in the historic Village Improvement Association hall to hear Robert Gause, vice president of the Bradenton land planning firm of Allison-Gause, explain what the new owners have planned for the former citrus groves off Center Road, and running to Bayshore Road.
"I'm satisfied with the proposal that I've seen so far," said Ron Martino, whose property backs up to the vacant acreage. "It's a big change (from what was approved) and now conforms with what the residents want."
Gause said the development the county commission approved in 2009 called for 37 homes on lots of 1 acre or less, with paved interior roads and sidewalks.
"It was a traditional type of development," he said, "and this community hated it."
The new proposal, which will be presented to the county commission, will have 15 lot sizes ranging from little more than 1 acre to 5 acres, maintaining more of the natural environment, with access from existing roads or
"We wanted to keep it consistent with what's on Terra Ceia Island," Gause said.
With the county commission having approve the plan in 2009 despite having most of the community against it, there were several questions about what the new owners plan to do.
Bill Cray, who lives in Palmetto and owns property in Terra Ceia, wanted to know how the developer was going to handle water runoff.
"There is an oyster farm (in Tillet Bayou across Bayshore Road from the property)," Cray said. "They located there because of the unique water quality."
Gause said drainage will be managed in an environmentally friendly way.
Other residents wanted to know how three interior lots will be accessed. Mark Riley of Luxury Estates International, the firm marketing the property, said there will be easements across exterior lots.
There were also questions about home sizes and styles.
Rick Waid with Luxury Estates International said they are only selling the lots and owners will be responsible for finding a builder.
There will be deed restrictions and an architectural review to ensure homes are built to quality standards, Waid said.
Overall, those who spoke at the meeting thought the plan was more compatible with their community than previous plans and said they support the development.
The community benefited from the crash of the real estate market, allowing new owners, William Briggs McClatchy and William Briggs McClatchy Living Trust, to purchase the land for $850,000 from Terra Ceia Vest LLC, which had invested about $8 million in the project.
After the meeting, Andrew Allison, president of Allison-Gause, said he had a good feeling about the island residents supporting their plan.
"The plan makes sense," Allison said, "and it's what the community wants."