In the case of the Aqua by the Bay development, a vocal minority of citizens has mounted an unfounded opposition, and I am compelled to rebut a movement I perceive as being detrimental to the best interests of Manatee County, as a whole.
I have lived in Bradenton for most of my 65 years. From my current observations, the majority of the land, except for the mangrove shoreline (which cannot be violated), consists primarily of spent agricultural lands that have become overgrown with invasive species, with some very small areas of true native trees. Any Aqua by the Bay structures will be placed within areas where there is little to preserve.
Our county has comprehensive regulations and codes to control growth, and the commission has a certain level of discretion in implementing those regulations. Aqua by the Bay will not be permitted to negatively impact any mangroves, and storm-water regulation will decrease pollutant runoff into Sarasota Bay relative to the past years’ uses.
Opponents use “Save Old Florida” to put the project in a bad light, and push their “Not In My Back Yard” agenda. The concern should be the future, not the past. “Old Florida” in my lifetime included: segregated schools, uncontrolled mosquitos, dirt/shell roads, one wooden bridge to Anna Maria Island, little air conditioning, limited regulation of any fishing or aquatic resources, and other admittedly antiquated characteristics. Where do the opponents draw the “Old Florida” line: 1900s, 1940s, 1980s, or 2000s…? Each era results in differing outcomes. Let’s look forward, not back.
The Aqua by the Bay developer is poised to make a huge investment in the future of Manatee County, which will increase our tax base, provide new jobs and encourage economic growth. Embrace smart growth for the future.
Timothy A. Knowles