Manatee commissioners OK expanded Palma Sola Bay condos, observation deck in Bradenton

MANATEE -- Palma Sola Bay Club will grow by six units and a 500-square-foot observation deck will be built on the property's bay frontage despite multiple residents who live along Palma Sola Bay expressing their dissatisfaction with the changes.

After more than two hours of discussion, the Manatee County Commission approved the changes in a 5-2 vote, with commissioners John Chappie and Robin DiSabatino dissenting, at its land-use meeting Thursday.

Initially approved in 2004 for 201 units, Palma Sola Bay Club, 3410 77th St. W., will now have 207 total units and two of the buildings located closest to Palma Sola Bay will be increased from two stories to three stories, making room for the additional units. Two buildings have been completed so far in the 31.24-acre development by Prospect Bradenton Investments LLC.

Voting for the changes were commissioners Vanessa Baugh, Betsy Benac, Larry Bustle, Charles Smith and Carol Whitmore.

During Thursday's public hearing, the commission approved the change with three revised stipulations: the entrance off Palma Sola Boulevard will only be for emergency vehicles; the developer will build a sidewalk from this entrance way to the site of the proposed pedestrian crosswalk, which will allow residents to access the observation deck; and the developer will construct a fence around the western property boundary.

"This is a good compromise," Benac said. "As somebody who recognizes that people buy waterfront property, they probably think they deserve some access to the water. ... I think it is going to be a great area for people to live because it is in a beautiful area."

DiSabatino said with or without the dock, the residents would still have access to the water.

"They do have access right now," she said.

There is a gate at the entrance off Palma Sola Boulevard to restrict use of the entrance. Project applicants said power outages can cause the gate to open.

Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who lives in a gated community, said the gate being open was bothersome.

"Ours doesn't open when the power goes out and it doesn't open," she said. "I don't want to start seeing it being used in a way that we don't really want it being used."

When the development was approved in 2004, one of the stipulations was that no docks, piers or other waterfront structures would be constructed on the site.

Chris Gremley, who represents the Palma Sola Park Association, said there were reasons why there were certain stipulations made in 2004.

"This should be the line in the sand right there," he said of the original approval. "This shouldn't go any further."

Gremley, like many other area residents who spoke Thursday, pointed out the mangrove cutting that took place on the development.

A Florida Department of Environmental Protection inspection report completed earlier this year found mangroves on the development's property had been cut in violation of a state permit.

According to county staff, the consent order has been fully executed, a fine is in place and the mangroves will now restored and monitored with reports sent to the DEP over the next few years.

Robert Beck, who said he will soon be moving from Palma Sola Park into Palma Sola Bay Club, was the sole public speaker who supported the changes.

"I have been very impressed with the developer," he said. "I felt convinced that this was a quality project."

Also on Thursday, the commission:

Approved an ordinance that prohibits unattended donation boxes from being located on public property or public rights-of-way in unincorporated Manatee County.

Approved a preliminary site plan and a rezone to planned development residential for 92 lots for single-family, semi-detached residences at southwest corner of 63rd Avenue East and Lockwood Ridge Road.

Approved an additional 41 RV spaces and 15 mobile-home spaces at Timberlane RV Park located off State Road 64 in East Manatee. When completed, there will be a total of 105 spaces.

Heard a first public hearing on the first phase of the Land Development Code rewrite. The code rewrite will go before the commission in a final public hearing and consideration for approval at 6 p.m. June 4.

Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.