County approves Parrish complex

MANATEE — A developer’s proposal to turn an abandoned golf course into a townhouse complex won county approval Thursday despite neighbors’ objections and misgivings.

But opponents might have gotten something out of their defeat: A renewed county focus on improving Erie Road.

Manatee County commissioners approved a preliminary site plan for Coventry Park, a 256-unit project planned for the former Woodlands Golf Course site at 5901 Erie Road. The vote was 6-1, with Commissioner Joe McClash dissenting.

McClash agreed with neighbors, primarily from the Ancient Oaks and Thousand Oaks subdivisions, who argued that two-story townhouses would not be compatible with surrounding single-family houses.

“Because they’re so narrow and so tall, in my opinion they’re going to look like high-rise mobile homes,” said Roger Raney, who lives in Ancient Oaks.

Woodlands of Manatee LLC proposed townhouses because there are none in the immediate area and there’s a market for it, said a local attorney representing the developer.

”There are a lot of people who want that type of product,” such as empty-nesters, young/childless couples and single professionals, Caleb Grimes said.

But neighbors had other qualms with the project, primarily the additional traffic it will put on Erie Road. The undivided two-lane road is dangerous because of its narrow lanes, steep shoulder drop-offs and poor condition, they said.

“We call Erie Road a roller-coaster,” said Raney, who was among a dozen neighbors who spoke against the proposed development.

The Parrish Civic Association urged commissioners not to approve any new development along Erie Road until the road is improved. Commissioners did not agree to do that but told their transportation staff to attempt to coordinate several planned improvements on the road.

The county plans to realign the Erie Road/69th Street East intersection in 2010 and is requiring other developers to add turn lanes, install traffic signals and make other improvements, county officials said.

Also Thursday, commissioners:

n Approved a preliminary site plan for The Paddocks, an 82-acre subdivision proposed at the southwest corner of Ellenton-Gillette and Mendoza roads near Ellenton. The plan calls for 264 single-family homes, townhouses and multifamily units, with at least 26 designated as workforce housing.

n Unanimously rezoned 0.23 acres at 5715 26th St. W. from residential to office and approved a preliminary site plan for a 2,330-square-foot office building there.

n Approved a revised preliminary site plan for the previously approved University Groves project north of University Parkway and west of Tuttle Avenue. The changes add a hotel and group-care, independent-living and residential-treatment facilities as allowable uses within the 142.2-acre project. The vote was 6-1, with McClash opposing the developer’s plans for five-story buildings.

Duane Marsteller, transportation/growth and development reporter, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2630.