Letters to the Editor

Manatee County Planning Commission chair ignores sound legal advice

East Manatee residents plead for a wooded area in East Manatee to be conserved after the proposed Myara Subdivision has been delayed twice. Larry Grossman addresses members of the Manatee County Planning Commission, Tim Rhoades, Matt Bower and Paul Rutledge, on Thursday.
East Manatee residents plead for a wooded area in East Manatee to be conserved after the proposed Myara Subdivision has been delayed twice. Larry Grossman addresses members of the Manatee County Planning Commission, Tim Rhoades, Matt Bower and Paul Rutledge, on Thursday. ttompkins@bradenton.com

On Oct. 13, the Manatee County Planning Commission conducted a quasi-judicial hearing to consider a request by Pat Neal, the applicant, to rezone 19 acres of wooded land and to approve a site plan to build 32 single family homes on 32 acres of a property known as the Myara Subdivision. The heavily wooded property is located between the Braden River and the Braden Run and River Run Communities.

The property is affected by a proposed two-lane, 84-foot wide county roadway, which would extend Linger Lodge Road through the subject site to connect with Old Clubhouse Road. The proposed road is contained in the Long Range Transportation Plan and is part of the Comprehensive Plan to provide connectivity to the neighborhood. However, the subdivision as submitted for approval did not incorporate the roadway and, as such, the application was not in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan.

The fundamental function of the Planning Commission in a quasi-judicial setting is to apply the development codes and ordinances and to make a finding based on facts and evidence as to whether a project is in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan in all of its elements and provisions.

Because this proposal was not in conformance with the Comp Plan, the county staff recommended denial as did the Planning Commission by a vote of 6-1.

Why wasn’t this vote unanimous? Well, the chairman, Mr. Bill Conerly, thought there was “discretion” in this case. He thought the Comprehensive Plan was ambiguous and allowed “flexibility” and voted not to deny the application.

Thus, despite the admonition of two county attorneys that there was no discretion on Comp Plan noncompliance, Mr. Conerly ignored staff’s findings. If Chairman Conerly doesn’t understand his job, he should be relieved of it. Perhaps his resignation is appropriate.

Citizens are chagrined.

Larry Grossman

Longboat Key

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