I attended the May 4 Manatee County commissioners’ review meeting for the Aqua by the Bay project in order to get a firsthand feel for the proposed development. Because of the overflow crowd, I had to view the presentation from the fourth floor overflow area. While waiting for proceedings to begin, I was surprised that every single person I talked to was against the project proposal.
I now realize why there is so much opposition. The development is bad environmentally and bad for the vibe of Manatee County that sets it apart from high rise, overbuilt communities like Fort Lauderdale/Miami and St. Pete. Our county’s reputation/brand as a more natural, less crazy community is at stake. This past winter and spring, I spent a lot of time enjoying our beaches, and I learned firsthand how important this is via informal conversations with tourists on our beaches. A great many of our tourists are East Coast Florida residents trying to get away from the craziness of the East Coast!
It has also become quite clear that the developer is using aggressive divide-and-conquer techniques to try to slide his huge high-rise development through the various required agency approvals by presenting an incomplete picture to each agency. His presentation to the county commissioners made this very clear, because he did not show any artist renderings of what the development will look like, nor would his team reveal how many buildings were planned to be above the 35-foot county height limit.
Carlos Beruff’s Aqua by the Bay development proposal is fundamentally flawed both in design and in his approach to working with the community. He is clearly trying to maximize his gain at our community’s expense. This development should not be approved.