Whitfield residents turn out to fight proposed RaceTrac gas station on U.S. 41; decision delayed

Posted by MARC R. MASFERRER on May 1, 2014 

By SARA KENNEDY skennedy@bradenton.com

MANATEE — Neighbors who live in a historic Whitfield neighborhood turned out Thursday to oppose a proposal for a RaceTrac gas station they said would diminish residential property values and aggravate traffic tie-ups.

After Manatee County commissioners appeared to be divided about approving the project, applicants SLD-Sarasota LP (Joseph H. Harman) and Bonus Properties Inc. agreed to continue the hearing to May 20 in order to try to accommodate commissioners' concerns.

The applicants are seeking approval for a preliminary site plan for a RaceTrac convenience store at the northeast corner of U.S. Highway 41 and Pearl Avenue.

The project on a 2.08-acre site calls for a 5,928-square-foot convenience store with eight gas pumps and an 8,773 square-foot canopy, which neighbors complained would bring with it noise, light pollution and aggravated traffic problems.

Mike Holderness, a Whitfield resident for 40 years and the operator of a real estate brokerage firm there, asked Manatee County commissioners to deny the request, saying the project would hurt property values in the neighborhood, which dates to 1920s.

“It’s going to be 24/7, and those property owners are going to suffer for this,” he said of those living in restored residences near the site.

Mark Barnebey, representing the applicants, said a meeting had been held with neighbors, and that the proposal had won the approval of both the county planning staff and of the Manatee County Planning Commission.

The applicants have already agreed to a number of changes to their plans, such as enhanced landscaping and a different style of canopy, according to county records.

Barnebey said he would and his clients would discuss some of the commissioners' aesthetic concerns and resume their hearing at 9 a.m. May 20.

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