Almost 1,000 people at Long Bar Pointe hearing

Herald staff writersAugust 6, 2013 

PALMETTO -- More than 930 people gathered Tuesday for a discussion on the proposed Long Bar Pointe project.

It was standing-room-only when the hearing started at midday at the Bradenton Area Convention Center in Palmetto.

But as the hours dragged past, the crowd began to thin.

First, there was a presentation by the planning staff, which had approved a map amendment to the county's comprehensive plan and opposed a text amendment, both of which have been proposed by developers of the southwest Manatee project.

By late afternoon, the developers and their attorney were discussing their plans for the 463.2-acre property.

The decision about the fate of the Comp Plan amendments will fall to the Manatee County Commission, which sat at a dias overlooking the huge crowd.

In the audience, there were people of all persuasions.

"I feel it would be good," said Craig Platt, 51, a builder for Medallion Home, who said he was a third-generation resident of Sarasota.

Along with the coastal project would come thousands of jobs, and increased property values, he said.

He recalled that at one time, there was similar opposition to construction of the Ringling Causeway Bridge, but now the structure is appreciated, he said.

"Change is good," he added.

Sitting nearby was Lowell Woyke, 66, a retiree who lives near where the development would be built. He said he was "completely opposed to all of this project."

He contended it would send property values plummeting, and eventually bar the public from any access to Sarasota Bay.

"I'm a fisherman, 50-foot boats and a 5-foot draft don't belong in that area," he said, referring to plans for a marina or boat basin as part of the project.

Commissioner Michael Gallen said he was impressed with the turn-out.

"They said there would be hundreds, and I'm impressed they all came," said Gallen.

Asked how long the hearing might continue, he said, "After my kids' bedtime."

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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