Developer may get wish to eliminate Linger Lodge Road extension

Developer Pat Neal watches proceedings in this 2016 file photo as the proposed Myara Subdivision.
Developer Pat Neal watches proceedings in this 2016 file photo as the proposed Myara Subdivision.

A future Linger Lodge Road extension may be removed from Manatee County’s Comprehensive Plan.

In a 4-3 vote Thursday, Manatee County Commission ignored staff’s recommendation, transmitting the request to the state to eliminate a future connection between Linger Lodge Road and Clubhouse Drive from the county plan. The commission will have to have an adoption hearing at a future date.

Commissioners Robin DiSabatino, Steve Jonsson ,Charles Smith and Carol Whitmore, and voted for Neal Communities’ request to eliminate the extension while Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, Betsy Benac and Priscilla Whisenant Trace voted against.

“It’s not politically correct. Not sure I care anymore,” Benac said. “We need roads. We need roads in this community. ... I want it to be preserved, too, but we need connectivity.”

But DiSabatino said the road network in the area is working the way it is now.

“I just don’t see how it is going to provide an overriding public benefit,” she said. “I just think it’s a win-win.”

Should the commission adopt the change to delete the segment of Linger Lodge Road between 93rd Street East and 99th Street East from county plans at a future meeting, it will allow Myarra Property Joint Venture LLC, which is affiliated with Neal Communities, to move forward with plans for the 33 acres.

This future connection was the reason for the county staff’s denial recommendation last year since the proposed two-lane thoroughfare was not included in the applicant’s preliminary site plans, making the proposal inconsistent with the comprehensive plan.

“If this link is eliminated the option that we have negotiated with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast can be exercised if they raise the money,” said Pat Neal with Neal Communities.

During Thursday’s hearing, Neal went into further detail about the proposal, adding that they have agreed to the purchase price with the nonprofit as well as offered $350,000 toward the fundraising effort. A special benefit district, or a Municipal Service Benefit Unit, is also in the works to help, according to Neal.

“We are happy to sell it to Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast,” Neal said.

On the nonprofit’s website, they have a page set up to collect donations to “help preserve a natural habitat along the Braden River, FOREVER,” according to the website.

But should the nonprofit not purchase the entire property for whatever reason, Neal said they still plan to contribute “a very significant portion” of the property and develop the 32 homes on the northeast corner of the site.

“We, as owners, will convey all the land south and west to a conservation entity even if we should develop the property,” Neal said.

The adjacent 12-acre property could also become a portion of the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast’s plans but the siblings of the now-deceased Carl Bergstresser are fighting in court to keep the property in their family instead.

Claire Aronson: 941-745-7024, @Claire_Aronson