Long Bar opponents celebrate as developers drop plea for map amendment

Opponents celebrate as developers regroup on map amendment

skennedy@bradenton.comDecember 23, 2013 

MANATEE -- Opponents of the proposed Long Bar Pointe project were celebrating Monday after developers withdrew a proposed Comprehensive Plan map amendment to change some residential zoning to mixed use.

Manatee County commissioners were to review the map amendment at a Jan. 23 hearing, which is now canceled.

"We would like to see Manatee County retain its character as in Old Florida, but still be modern," said Ed Goff of Save Our Manatee Shoreline, which opposed plans for the project in southwest Manatee. "I'm still skeptical, but I was happy when I heard about it. If it's true, I'm very pleased."

Goff said he hoped the land could become a preserve protected from development.

Developer attorney Edward Vogler II wrote in a letter to county officials: "We wish to withdraw the Comprehensive Plan Map Amendment from further consideration or action at this time."

Vogler later said: "Long Bar Pointe is a well-located property in an area

that will develop soon, and the landowners are proceeding with plans consistent with the existing land-use designation for the property. A change to the land-use map is not presently required. A mix of land uses is authorized by the Comprehensive Plan, and more detailed plans for future development will be presented soon."

Developers Carlos Beruff of Medallion Home of Bradenton and Larry Lieberman of the Barrington Group Inc. of Sarasota seek to build on 463 acres near where 75th Street West intersects with 53rd Avenue West.

Last summer, environmental and civic groups banded together to oppose the project, including ManaSota-88, the Sierra Club, Stop the Skyway Resort Project, Save Our Manatee Shoreline and Bay Life Preservers.

Project plans originally envisioned a maximum of 1,086 single family homes, 1,687 low-rise multi-family homes, 844 high-rise multi-family homes, a 300-room hotel, a marina and canal, two 36,000-square-foot offices, a 60,000-square-foot shopping center, 60,000 square feet of specialty retail and an 84,000-square-foot conference center, according to county documents.

Beruff said, in reality, the project would entail much lower numbers.

In August, more than 1,000 people showed up to discuss proposed land-use changes that would have altered the character of the property in an environmentally sensitive area bordering pristine Sarasota Bay.

At that meeting, county commissioners nixed a comp plan text amendment developers proposed. They OK'd a map amendment after persuading Beruff and Lieberman to forego a marina as part of their plans.

The map amendment would have changed the future land-use map category for the property from residential-9 to mixed use."If you have res-9 you can have commercial, retail, office and residential allowed, a mix of uses in the res-9 land-use category," Vogel said. "If you change to (mixed-use), it allows the same category of uses, but different types of uses, different intensities."

The Manatee County Comprehensive Plan is a document that guides future development.

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

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