The Florida Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice of intent to issue Long Bar Pointe, LLLP, its mitigation bank permit.
The first application permit was scrapped because it included portions of neighboring Manatee Fruit Co. property. This time the application, submitted by Pete Logan on Sept. 12, was full speed ahead.
Long Bar Pointe, whose company with the same name is a branch of Medallion Home, founded by Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff, is located south of El Conquistador Parkway and 75th Street West along Sarasota Bay. The coastal portion of the land is now planned for a mitigation bank, while the rest is in the process of becoming a sub-division called Aqua by the Bay.
A mitigation bank is made up of disturbed wetlands in need of protection and maintenance. That area is bought, goes through a process to acquire state and federal permits and then is cleaned up to become a “bank” of sorts.
As per the Clean Water Act, any wetland a developer destroys will need to be offset somewhere else in the same manner — in other words, cypress swamp needs to be replaced with cypress swamp, and saltwater marsh will need to be replaced with saltwater marsh.
Instead of a developer spending a great deal of money to create their own wetlands, which takes a lot of time to be successful, FDEP will determine how much of successful wetlands is being destroyed and a developer can offset their impact by buying those credits from the mitigation bank.
Mitigation bank credits can be worth anywhere between $100,000 and $200,000.
There are mitigation banks across the state, but this is by far the smallest one at 18.01 credits and would be a first for the county. Also, it would be next to an active construction site.
The permit does not authorize mangrove trimming, according to the letter signed by FDEP’s Sumberged Lands and Environmental Resources Coordination Program administrator Timothy Rach. Yet Long Bar has set aside 36 acres, or 30 percent of all mangrove swamps on the mitigation bank site that are under 500 feet in width from the shoreline, to potentially trim to no shorter than 12 feet.
An additional seven percent is not proposed, but is said to eligible for mangrove trimming under a general permit.
Before Long Bar Pointe will be eligible for the 18.01 credits, previously 18.62 credits that included Manatee Fruit Company land, they must first maintain the proposed bank. ECo Consultants overestimates the to-be-finalized costs at $626,835 for tasks like removing nuisance exotic species, installing conservation easement and seagrass information signs and monitoring the area for five years.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission also looked into a disturbed eagle’s nest in the same area in September. Through the investigation, they found that the nest had fallen and the eagles were attempting to rebuild it and it “does not look like foul play.” Long Bar was told they can continue their operations between 330 and 660 feet from the nest as long as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service monitoring guidelines were followed.
Soon after, Long Bar Pointe was investigated by Manatee County over demolishing a portion of a conservation area on land owned by Legends Bay, an adjacent subdivision. They were issued a citation of $150, according to a document from the code enforcement division.
Opponents to the mitigation bank, like former Manatee County commissioner Joe McClash and Suncoast Waterkeeper, argued the new application was not different than the one they originally withdrew, and expressed plans to challenge the permit.
Efforts to reach out to Beruff and Medallion Home president Pete Logan for comment were unsuccessful.