Mannix About Manatee: Marathon meeting over Long Bar Pointe

August 7, 2013 

People clapped.

People cheered.

People booed.

A night at McKechnie Field for a Marauders' Florida State League game?

Uh, no.

Try the Bradenton Area Convention Center during the marathon Tuesday session of the Manatee County Commission land use meeting involving the contentious Long Bar Point project.

It started at 1:30 p.m. and looked like it was going to go on past midnight.

Whether anything was ever going to be resolved on this volatile issue before the bewitching hour was anybody's guess.

This was knock-down-drag-out.

There were 1,000 people in the North Hall at the start of the proceedings.

It was electric.

Standing Room Only.

A heavyweight showdown, all right.

Developers Carlos Beruff/Larry Lieberman were in one corner.

You could spot their supporters, many of them real estate agents sporting green ballcaps and green buttons that bore one word: Yes.

In the other corner were all the people opposed to the

developers' grandiose plans for a coastal resort, a massive five-star hotel complex, boat basin, etc., on Sarasota Bay.

It was a lively crowd, a tough crowd, an informed crowd, too.

That went especially for those who endured nearly five hours of presentations by the county staff, questions from the commissioners, followed by the developers' attorneys and consultants presentations.

Important, yes, but all legalese and the land-use minutiae was mind-numbing.

By the time the highly anticipated public comment portion of the meeting ensued, maybe half the original crowd was still around.

They got their money's worth.

It was showtime.

Commission Chairman Larry Bustle probably felt like a referee at times, reminding the audience to be civil during several junctures of the interminable meeting

You could count those who spoke in favor of Long Bar Point on one hand before 9 p.m.

The opposing side turned out in force.

Many of those who spoke against the project did so pointedly and with passion.

They covered all the bases.




You name it.

Supporters waved their hands everytime a speaker hit home with a key point.

Or they waved toy plastic dolphins.

Many wore T-shirts that read: "Save Our Bay."

Their message to Beruff and Lieberman was unmistakable.

The Long Bar Pointe project looks nice.

It really does.

In Fort Lauderdale.

In Miami.

In St. Petersburg.

Anywhere, but here.

Mannix About Manatee, by columnist Vin Mannix, is about people and issues in Manatee County. Call Vin at 941-745-7055. Twitter: @vinmannix

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