Manatee County Planning Commission OKs changes for developer at Palma Sola Bay Club

MANATEE -- Opponents of changes in plans for a development at the Palma Sola Bay Club vowed Thursday to organize a protest after the Manatee County Planning Commission OK'd amendments to a preliminary site plan.

The commission OK'd the developer's request to increase the number of units from 201 to 207, amend the height of some buildings and install an observation deck overlooking the bay ringed by protected mangroves.

Plans for the 31.24-acre development at 3410 77th St. W. were submitted by Prospect Bradenton Investments LLC.

"The residents of this area are not against the project as approved," said former Manatee County Commission candidate Terri Wonder. "The residents are, though, adamantly against the requested changes the developer has made."

Lloyd Lane said he opposed all stipulations the developer requested.

"We'd just like to preserve it the way it is," he said.

Opponents of the commission's decision said they planned to stage a protest at 4 p.m. Friday near the site.

The multifamily project was originally approved in 2004. However, the final product called for 201 multifamily units and buildings limited to two stories over parking, according to county records.

Work ground to a halt, however, and in 2013 new

owners purchased it and restarted the project.

The applicant's attorney, Patricia Petruff, said it was originally designed as three stories over parking, which the developer asked to be reinstated.

"The height of the buildings, we believe, is appropriate to do," she said. "It's three stories, 207 units, well below the 500-unit maximum we would be allowed."

She called the observation dock "very minimal" at 500 square feet in an area where fishermen have worn a path through the mangroves over many years, she said.

Wonder asserted the area used to be full of red mangrove roots, but there had been "substantial defoliation."

She asked any decision about the observation deck be tabled until the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, which regulates mangrove habitats, determines any violations.

Joel Christian, a county staff member, said he was not aware of a violation, but said he would verify the status of the state permit and report to the Manatee County Commission when it reviews the matter Feb. 5.

The planning commission is an advisory body only. The county commission makes the final decision.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.