MANATEE -- The Manatee County Planning Commission Tuesday gave preliminary approval for a change in the county's Comprehensive Plan text to accommodate what developers described as a "world-class project" in southwest Bradenton.
The county's professional staff had a less charitable view about what developers are seeking to change for the Long Bar Pointe project: "It's the backbone of our environmental protection policies in Manatee County," said Planning Division Manager Doug Means.
Developers hope to build a mixed-use development on a 463.2-acre site, including single- and multi-family units, hotel, marina, office and commercial space, and a conference center, according to county documents. About 294.7 acres are within the Coastal High Hazard area, an area prone to flooding during storms, the documents said.
One of the development group, Carlos Beruff, said he hoped to try to do a project that would be "transformational for west Bradenton."
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The site overlooks Sarasota Bay and parallels El Conquistador Parkway in the area where 75th Street West intersects with 53rd Avenue West.
The board unanimously OK'd a change to the future land use map from residential to mixed-use one, with the blessing of county planners.
It also OK'd, 6-1, text changes that would apply countywide in language affecting coastline and conservation chapters of the Comprehensive Plan, despite opposition from county planners.
The text changes would allow developers to ask for limited exceptions to the Comp Plan's conservation and coastal management chapters, they said.
Voting in favor of the text change motion were Chairman Richard Bedford and Commissioners John De Lesline, Tanya Lukowiak, David Wick, Tim Rhoades and Bill Conerly; voting against was George Mendez.
"I appreciate the applicant, I'm going to vote against the motion because I have only gone against staff one time ..." he told the board.
Also opposing the Comp Plan change were environmental leaders.
"The best way to mitigate huge hurricanes is to keep things out of harm's way, and unfortunately, this project wouldn't do that," predicted Mary Sheppard, who urged the board to deny Comp Plan changes.
The matter still must win the approval of the Manatee County Commission.
The Comprehensive Plan guides the county's future growth and development.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter@sarawrites.