Although the neighborhood of Legends Bay is still under construction, it still can be an environmental getaway for the few who call the gated community home.
A trio of otters played in the creek. A bald eagle’s nest sits on top of a tall pine tree. Even coyotes have been seen.
But a sizable chunk of the protected conservation area on Legends Bay’s property that divided it from Medallion Home’s Long Bar Pointe development, west of the property along El Conquistador Parkway, has been bulldozed over and ripped from the roots. The county is investigating how this happened.
The homeowner who lives directly in front of the affected area, who asked not to be named, said she first saw a bulldozer going after one of the tallest pine trees — a “landmark tree,” neighbors called it — on Oct. 17, and she started wildly waving her arms to get the worker to stop.
“He stopped ... for a couple of minutes and then he continued,” she said.
The homeowner and her husband moved to Legends Bay three years ago, choosing their house specifically because it was in front of the thickest portion of the conservation area.
She took photos of the destruction and said she tried contacting Medallion, but to no avail.
A letter sent out to Legends Bay residents by Bruce St. Denis, the senior manager of the Development Planning and Financing Group Inc. and manager of Legends Bay’s community development district, said they had asked Medallion to stop clearing land until ownership could be confirmed.
“(Medallion) responded they would have the area resurveyed to make sure they were not on our property, but that they would not stop the clearing activities,” St. Denis wrote in the Oct. 25 letter.
Arlene Dukanauskas and her husband live across the pond and can see the destruction from their house.
They would enjoy watching sunsets that fell below the conservation area and wildlife drawn to the greenery. Now, it’s a gaping hole exposing the neighboring construction site, and they’re worried about their property’s value decreasing.
She said she wants restitution to be made by the responsible party, since the wildlife isn’t the only one affected.
“The commissioners need to understand that it’s important to people, too,” Dukanauskas said.
Manatee County Code Enforcement was notified about the violation and is continuing the investigation.
“In (the code enforcement’s) opinion, the clearing had damaged a wetland and conservation area on Legends Bay property for which Legends Bay had provided an easement to Manatee County for preservation purposes,” St. Denis’ letter continued.
The company’s founder Carlos Beruff, president Pete Logan and attorney Ed Vogler III could not immediately be reached for comment.