BRADENTON -- Wielding inflatable dolphins, several dozen protesters gathered Thursday at the Manatee County Administrative Center to oppose the proposed Long Bar Pointe development.
Protesters said they were delivering 1,000 of 5,375 signatures they have counted on petitions to the building's ninth floor, where they left them for county commissioners.
"We wanted to give the commissioners a chance to see the signatures," said Ed Goff, 69, a retiree from Bradenton, who carried an envelope with the anti-development petitions inside.
"We're getting over 100 new signatures a day," he added. "The online ones are really coming in now."
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Others petitions will be turned in Tuesday at the meeting where the Manatee County Commission is slated to consider changes to its Comprehensive Plan, which guides future development, in connection with the Long Bar Pointe project.
Developers are proposing single-family homes, low-rise multi-family homes, high-rise multi-family homes, a hotel, marina and canal, office space, shopping center, specialty retail and a conference center on 463 acres in the southwestern section of the county.
Matt Bower, 39, a Bradenton office manager and part-time fishing guide, said he has been collecting online signatures opposing the project with great success.
"It's amazing what social media is doing for us right now," he said.
He said he is not "anti-development," but op
poses a project he contends would destroy the county's coastline and its rich fishing grounds.
The public hearing on the map and text amendments will go on as scheduled, despite a lawsuit filed by developers Larry Lieberman and Carlos Beruff against the county related to El Conquistador Parkway, the Manatee County Attorney's Office determined Thursday.
After reviewing the suit, counsel decided that the public hearing will not be affected by the lawsuit filed by developers last week. Palmer said he expects the commission to vote on both amendments.
"The public hearing is going to move forward as scheduled," County Attorney Mickey Palmer said. The hearing is set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto.
Attorney Ed Vogler II, representing the developers, noted that the county attorney had issued an opinion saying that the lawsuit had nothing to do with the decision on the Comprehensive Plan amendments.
"The bottom line is: All the evidence will be presented at the public hearing, and we're looking forward to that," said Vogler.
The developers filed the suit against Manatee County July 25 in Circuit Court, asking for a jury trial to determine compensation for land the plaintiffs say they weren't properly paid for when the county built the El Conquistador Parkway extension.
The complaint claims an agreement with the original developers, SBC Developments -- also owned by Lieberman -- stated that if the road was built after Jan. 1, 2010, the developers would be relieved of a special fee for the road. The plaintiffs state that the county did not provide written notice on or before Jan. 1, 2010, that the road would be constructed. The county went ahead with construction for the road after SBC did not have the money to build the road, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit cites items contained in a local development agreement spelling out stipulations for Long Bar Pointe and El Conquistador Parkway.
Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter@ImYourChuck.