Lakewood Ranch Herald

Attorneys seek solution for proposed helistop at Concession Gulf Club in East Manatee

EAST MANATEE -- Plans to build a private helistop at The Concession Golf Course in East Manatee are now being discussed by attorneys for the golf course and the neighboring Foxwood at Panther Ridge equestrian community that seeks to prevent it from being built.

The Foxwood Homeowners Association that governs the neighborhood surrounding State Road 70 and Lindrick Lane has asked its legal representatives, the Sarasota law firm of Lobeck & Hanson, to help resolve the issue, and reportedly has garnered support from other Panther Ridge neighbors who live opposite State Road 70.

The Foxwood HOA met Tuesday evening and the helistop proposal was the last item on the agenda.

After the meeting, Foxwood HOA attorney D.J. Fredericks said discussions with The Concession are in the beginning stages and, "We're keeping the lines of communication open."

Otto Jack Jr., lawyer for the Concession Golf Club, agreed the relationship is amicable.

"(Mr. Fredericks) is doing a good job with our discussions and he's trying to get back to me," he said.

The Foxwood neighborhood is an equestrian community opposite the site of the proposed helistop at 7700 Lindrick Lane, and several Foxwood residents have stables with horses that graze in fenced-in pastures which directly face the golf course.

Owners of The Concession Golf Club submitted plans in March to Manatee County Building and Development Services to modify the club's General Development Plan, adding a helistop to the northeast, walled portion of the golf course.

According to Manatee County Building Department records, the helistop would be accessed by golf carts, cars or trucks using a driveway near the guardhouse on Lindrick Lane. No plans were submitted to build support facilities such as fuel, hangars or attendant shelters. The Federal Aviation Administration has yet to be notified of any plans to establish a landing zone in the area.

Jack told the Bradenton Herald earlier this month the golf club is willing to let Panther Ridge share the helistop.

"We don't want to hurt anyone. In fact, if there is a medical emergency there, they could use the helistop to evacuate to a hospital in order to save someone's life, if necessary," he said.

The neighborhoods of Panther Ridge have 15 miles of intertwining community trails where residents often ride their horses in the quiet of the adjoining preserves, where nesting bald eagles and protected sandhill cranes make their homes.

Terry Kennelly, general manger of The Concession Golf Club, told the Herald earlier this month the helistop is intended to be used by small helicopters landing only twice a month, or about 24 times a year during daylight hours.

Kennelly said the club is seeking ways to improve amenities for its members and guests.

The helistop proposal will receive a public hearing before the Board of Manatee County Commissioners votes on it.

Manatee County has heliports at Blake Medical Center, Manatee Memorial Hospital and one at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. Helicopters can also fly in and out of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport.

Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.

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