They say fences make for good neighbors, but that depends on whose side you are on in the Point Pleasant conservation district.
There is a 14-by-40-foot strip of land at the end of Point Pleasant Boulevard that has long been considered public property and is the last open access point to the Manatee River. It’s no longer open after resident Ryan Snyder acquired the property, installed rip rap and a 4-foot iron picket fence.
Residents who have long gathered at the point to watch sunsets are furious and demand the city of Bradenton take action. Though it was long assumed the property belonged to the city, it does not and never has.
Planning and Community Development Director Catherine Hartley said Snyder presented the necessary ownership documents and was approved for the fence permit.
The original plat dates to 1921 to the Curry family, but it was purchased in 1890. Snyder obtained the deeds from the Curry family, but there is a sticking point in that the plat documents say the strip of land is “reserved.”
“But it does not say who reserved it or for what purpose,” Hartley said.
City attorney Bill Lisch said even if Snyder proves to be the new owner, “It doesn’t extinguish the right of the public. We want to have an expert run that title to see who is the true owner and how they got to be the owner.”
Neighbors such as Jane Plitt urged the city to take “immediate action. That has a historical use and it would also be appropriate that the council recognizes the public has a right to some kind of access regardless of what is found from the investigation.”
Other neighbors had harsh words for Snyder, but he said not one bothered to talk to him and he hopes they realize he is not blocking access to his neighbors.
“As part of getting the deed from the Curry family, I agreed to build a bench, a monument to the Curry family and am going to give every Point Pleasant resident a key to the gate,” he said.
The point after sunset
Snyder showed photos and videos of illicit activities at the point that have been ongoing. He says he's collected almost 100 syringes from the site in the past year and has home surveillance videos of several encounters between the Bradenton Police Department and unidentified people at the point.
Snyder said the point had become a haven for drug use and “people having sex in their cars. I can’t even allow my children to play in the side yard because people throw their syringes over the wall and into my yard.”
His promises to the Curry family are documented in the paperwork and were supplied to the city without response. Snyder plans to build a walkway from the gate to the water where he will put in a bench and the monument to the Curry family.
“I’m not trying to stop anyone from seeing the sunsets,” he said. “I’m trying to make this area safer for my family and the neighborhood, but I’ve been public enemy No. 1 ever since I moved in.”
Snyder’s waterfront home is often referred to as the “McMansion” and that construction led the city to create the conservation overlay district in early 2016 to preserve the character of the neighborhood. With several neighbors demanding action, the words “eminent domain” were eventually spoken.
“If it’s an important fabric of the community, the city could take it with eminent domain,” Ward 4 Councilman Bemis Smith said.
Snyder, a local attorney, said, “I don’t want a fight, but if I’m left with no choice, I will. They think I don’t like them down there, but most of the time it’s people I’ve never seen before. The Bradenton Police Department has a record. I’ve called them countless times about people engaging in drug use and sexual activity and sometimes they try to get into my backyard. My question to the mayor and the council is, ‘What in the hell would you do if it was your family?’
“Now they are discussing all this litigation. Why did no one reach out to me?”