Commission OKs plans for development adjacent to Robinson Preserve

skennedy@bradenton.comFebruary 14, 2014 

MANATEE -- What developer John Neal calls an "exclusive residential community" adjacent to the popular Robinson Preserve won tentative approval Thursday from the Manatee County Planning Commission.

Neal's preliminary site plan calls for 50 single-family, detached homes on more than 50 acres, with 48 percent open space.

The vacant property is just west of 99th Street Northwest and south of Ninth Avenue Northwest, north of Manatee Avenue and Palma Sola Bay.

It was originally part of 691 acres constituting Robinson Farms; in 2003, the county acquired 492.9 acres that became Robinson Preserve, which last year was fortified with an expansion parcel of 149.1 acres.

No speakers appeared at Thursday's meeting to oppose the subdivision, and the planning commission OK'd it unanimously.

"We worked with the county and its Natural Resources Department on its design," Neal said after the vote. "Given its location, the Natural Resources Department was involved throughout the planning of the project."

The development is engineered to provide better

flushing of water throughout Palma Sola Bay, Neal added.

"The waterways you see are all county-owned property, and all are part of the original Robinson Preserve acquisition," said Neal's attorney, Edward Vogler II. "The north side of the causeway tends to have water quality issues because flushing is not as great."

When the Palma Sola Causeway was built decades ago, the highway across it disturbed its natural flushing ability, Vogler said.

Nearby is a different parcel of land Neal hopes to develop, which has been the subject of litigation for years.

That property is between Ninth and 17th avenues northwest. The dispute between Neal and neighbors of the property centers around whether county officials should allow construction at a higher density than now is permitted there.

Because the planning commission is an advisory body, the proposal still must win the approval of the Manatee County Commission.

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

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