MANATEE -- A proposed amendment to the county's Comprehensive Plan calls for changes that would omit most of the Long Bar Pointe project from an Urban Service Area, meaning that any development there would have to undergo more vigorous review.
The proposal, approved Thursday by the county Planning Commission, would exclude environmentally-sensitive areas from the Urban Service Area, such as most of the Long Bar Pointe project in southwest Manatee.
An Urban Service Area is designed to help focus growth in areas already equipped with existing infrastructure, such as water and sewer service and roads, county planner John Osborne told the planning commission.
The Urban Service Area is meant to jump-start growth and encourage urban redevelopment in those areas, and to discourage urban sprawl in places not yet equipped with infrastructure.
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After hearing public comments about what the Urban Service Area should cover, planning officials are recommending that the most sensitive ecological parts be excluded from it, said Osborne.
The Urban Service Area allows exemptions for large projects that affect residents of more than one county from higher-level planning reviews under Development of Regional Impact rules.
Osborne said the recommendation to modify the boundaries of the Urban Service Area would go before the Manatee County Commission for a final decision on Nov. 7.
Almost 1,000 people attended a hearing last summer about the Long Bar Pointe project plans, which in their original form would have affected sensitive ecological areas overlooking Sarasota Bay.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.