Attorney declines Robinson Farms subdivision settlement offer

skennedy@bradenton.comAugust 15, 2013 

MANATEE -- Neighbors who challenged the density allowed for a proposed Robinson Farms subdivision have turned down a settlement offer to cut the number of homes by more than half, attorneys said Wednesday.

Attorney Thomas Reese, representing former Bradenton Beach Mayor Katie Pierola and a neighbor, Greg Geraldson, Wednesday declined a legal settlement proposed by developer John Neal, Reese said.

"The comp plan says you can't increase density in the coastal evacuation area," said Reese, referring to the Manatee County Comprehensive Plan, which sets parameters for growth.

He maintained the density for the subdivision should remain at one home per acre, or about 49 homes altogether, because of the land's low-lying features.

He wrote in an e-mail to attorney Ed Vogler II, who represents Neal: "My clients thank your clients for the settlement offer, but my clients respectfully decline the settlement offer."

Over a series of proposals, the developer had gradually cut down the number of

homes proposed to build on the property, Reese said.

The latest offer involved 68 homes on fewer than 50 acres -- 38 on a 20-acre parcel on the north end of the property and 30 on the remaining 30 acres.

In 2011, Neal wanted to build up to 150 homes on the property located between Ninth and 17th Avenues N.W., according to Herald archives.

"This is a NIMBY issue, and I hate to say it that way," said Neal. "The point of our settlement discussion was -- could she tell me what she wanted?" he said, referring to Pierola.

"She doesn't want any of that, she doesn't want it in her backyard, whatever that is," he added. "I can't help her with that."

Pierola was unavailable for comment Wednesday."The key point is the additional 18 units would be on the north 20 acres, directed away from properties owned by the petitioners," said Vogler. "We are likely done exploring this matter with the petitioners, and will continue the process."

The case originated when the Manatee County Commission voted to change the county Comprehensive Plan to increase the allowed density from one to three residential units per acre.

Pierola and Geraldson challenged the county decision.

Manatee County commissioners later rescinded the ordinance allowing greater density.

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

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