Whitfield neighbors oppose plan for RaceTrac project

skennedy@bradenton.comMay 6, 2014 

MANATEE -- Neighbors who live in the 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. asked 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 gas station and convenience store at the northeast corner of U.S. 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 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 the 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 limitation on the hours when large fuel trucks could make gas deliveries.

Barnebey said he and his clients would discuss some of the commissioners' aesthetic concerns, which included the project's large canopy and other items that might degrade the character of the nearby neighborhood or disturb residents.

The hearing is slated to resume at 9 a.m. May 20 at County Administrative Center, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

In other action, the commission Thursday OK'd a proposal for a development called Tillett Bayou Preserve to allow construction of 15 single family dwellings on large lots at Terra Ceia Island.

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

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