Commissioners side with builder

BRADENTON — Put in the middle of a dispute between a home builder and a developer over impact fee refunds, Manatee County commissioners sided Tuesday with the builder.

The problem arose when the builder, Centex Homes, and the developer, Marc Mobley, of Creekwood Estates LLC and M&S LLC, requested impact fee refunds for the same county road, Creekwood Boulevard, built through the property.

The former director of the county planning department made a ruling, as per the land development code, to award the refunds worth about $394,000 to Centex, causing Mobley to appeal that decision to the commission.

In a 6-0 vote, with Commissioner Joe McClash absent from the dais, commissioners upheld the decision of the planning director on Centex’s claim that it owns the property and paid the impact fees when it received the building permits on the 62 homes it constructed in the Crossing Creek development.

Assistant County Attorney Bill Clague told commissioners that his review of facts presented to him indicate the county was on defensible legal grounds if the issue would end up in court.

This was a possibility because the impact fee credit dispute is only a part of the contractual disagreement between Centex and Mobley.

Clague also said the decision was based on the fact that Centex owned the property and built the homes.

Ed Vogler, Mobley’s attorney, called the action before the commission an “adversarial appeal between competing parties for money.”

Vogler reminded the panel that Mobley was the original land owner who provided the right of way for the road.

“The claim of giving the right of way for the building of the road should precede the claim of those building the road,” he said. “Without the land, there would be no road.”

Centex’s lawyer, Kevin Hennessy, said the commissioners should ask if Mobley built any homes in the Crossing Creek development.

Hennessy also said it was his client who paid the impact fees and should be the one receiving the refund.

In other business, commissioners:

n Voted 4-3, with commissioners McClash, Ron Getman and John Chappie voting in the minority, not to require the developer of Estates on Tillet Bayou to change the preliminary site plan approved in May, which would have eliminated the development’s access to Bayshore Drive on Terra Ceia Island.

The issue was revisited because of concern for the stormwater run off into Tillet Bayou from the access road.

Engineers for the developer, Terra Ceia Vest LLC, said the proposed design would provide adequate protection of the water quality entering the bayou from the project.

Jim Dye, the attorney for the developer, said without the access to Bayshore Drive the project loses its waterfront selling point and becomes an inland community.

Eight residents of Terra Ceia spoke against allowing the connection to Bayshore Drive, voicing their concerns for the environment and water quality.

n Heard from Charlie Hunsicker, director of the county natural resources department, that the county is talking with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection about beach restoration on Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island.

Hunsicker said the county and the town of Longboat Key want to remove sand from an area off the shore of Anna Maria Island before the natural gas pipelines from Port Dolphin are constructed.

This would advance the county’s beach nourishment project by three years.