Faced with a Bert Harris Private Property Protection Act lawsuit filed by the owners of Long Bar Pointe, the Manatee Count Commission decided on Dec. 16 to stand its ground (in this case, submerged ground) and defended its decision to deny a privately initiated text amendment to the Comprehensive Plan submitted by Cargo Partners VII, owners of the Long Bar Pointe properties.
The proposed amendment would have gutted every environmental protection provision in the Comp Plan that had been carefully crafted to protect air and water quality, wetlands, sea grass and mangrove habitats, manatees, fish and shellfish and coastal areas from flooding and manmade pollution. In other words, this amendment, purportedly offered in the name of promoting the public good, would have sabotaged all public goods which we all now enjoy.
Of course, the owners will claim that the intent of the text amendment was to except themselves from these environmental policies for the noble purpose of enhancing public access to the waterfront. They further promise to assiduously mitigate any damage done to a level that would exceed nature's capabilities. An extraordinary claim.
The basis of the exception? Being not less than 100 acres and being next to navigable water to provide for a marina. The rational nexus between having at least 100 acres and being able to violate a boatload of environmental protections might elude the rationale of an average citizen or a 10-year-old child.
Now the owners claim the denial of their text amendment was a taking of their 468-acre property, which includes 117 acres of submerged land. The suit claims $18 million in damages. Why not use Florida Forever funds to buy the submerged land? No damage. No need to mitigate.