Proposed Long Bar Pointe development too much a risk on ecosystem

July 27, 2013 

I recently saw the video prepared by the Sierra Club about the proposed Long Bar Pointe development in Cortez.

Having grown up on the shores of Tampa Bay, I value the natural beauty of Manatee County. I'm amazed that the county would consider development that would forever alter character of the community and the natural function of the bay.

I currently live on the Indian River Lagoon on the East Coast. The Indian River Lagoon is a 156-mile-long estuary that closely resembles the habitat of Sarasota Bay. It brings $3.7 billion to our economy, vital to our coastal communities.

Unfortunately, our East Coast estuary is in collapse along more than two-thirds of its length. We have had dolphin deaths, manatee deaths and have lost many brown pelicans to what is suspected to be toxic algae that grew in place of over 40,000 acres of seagrass destroyed by too many nutrients and over development.

Many of our residents didn't appreciate the value of our waters until they turned bitter and lifeless.

I hope that the residents of Manatee County will toughen their comprehensive plan to protect the precious resource that brought so many residents to the area in the first place. Those waters belong to future generations as much as they belong to current property owners.

The time for big dredge-and-fill developments in Florida's coastal waters went out long ago. We face billions of dollars in future costs as we deal with protecting coastal development from sea level rise. Why would we set ourselves up for massive subsidies to protect a new development on coastal wetlands of only five or six feet of elevation?

I encourage the Manatee County commission to maintain tough comprehensive plan requirements that will protect Florida's waters.

Kevin Stinnette

Fort PierceEditor's note: Mr. Stinnette, board president for Indian Riverkeeper, teaches ocean science at the Marine Oceanographic Academy Prep Program in St. Lucie County.

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