Letters to the Editor

Aqua by the Bay heights will mitigate urban sprawl

More green space. More open space. That is the goal when it comes to the reduction of sprawl here in Manatee County, right? Self-proclaimed environmentalists’ complaints about the Aqua by the Bay neighborhood’s proposed building heights (12 buildings at 95 feet tall, and four at 145 feet tall), are confusing to me. We're not talking about high rises, and vertical design means a reduction of urban sprawl.

Opposition messages have shifted from “save the mangroves,” which will indeed be saved. Now it’s “the buildings are too high.” The fact is the neighborhood’s mixed-use design will be set away from the shoreline (a good thing) and about the best you could ask for when planning a neighborhood’s environmental footprint.

With the refocus on infill here in Manatee County, we are seeing a transition to mixed-use developments, with the nearby Lake Flores community already approved at similar building heights. Higher is better. This is a continuation of progress.

Opponents would have you believe this is going to be some monstrosity, but they’re admittedly foggy about the facts. Overheard at their recent meeting was Jane Von Hahmann saying they were sharing “what we believe are the facts... our interpretation is there... and I am not saying everything is not up for interpretation, because we know it is…” Adding that it was the “the math we came up with…” And John Stevely, showing a graphic “we have altered...we tried to imagine ...not trying to guess but this is just a cartoon... we don’t know!”

The facts have always been on the side of Aqua by the Bay. It's a great opportunity for Manatee County. Let’s give this plan a “yes,” so we can see smart growth come to life.

Ed Bailey

lifelong Manatee County resident