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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Bradenton Beach OKs Perico settlement

Another domino has fallen in what appears to be eroding opposition to the high-rise development on Perico Island.

Bradenton Beach city commissioners last Thursday unanimously agreed to approve a negotiated settlement brokered between Manatee County, Bradenton, ManaSota-88, the three Island cities and St. Joe Co., developer of the island just across Anna Maria Sound from the Island.

The settlement drops height of many of the proposed 10-story structures, and moves the taller buildings to the east side of Perico, away from Anna Maria Island.

Total development now would allow for two 12-story buildings that would have tapered tops to reduce the bulk appearance, three 10-story structures, four seven-story and four six-story buildings, according to St. Joe Co. spokesman Kevin Hennessy.

"This project will have the lowest density development in Bradenton," he added.

Other terms of the settlement call for there to be no mangrove trimming of the forest on the fringe of the island. Manatee County also has an option to purchase the upland area of the southeastern portion of the property at a cost of 50-percent of the appraised value or $6 million for preserved open space.

Manatee County will provide water service to the project, and all legal action against St. Joe Co. will cease.

Islanders had objected to St. Joe Co.'s proposed development, citing height, evacuation and environmental issues, as did ManaSota-88, which filed a lawsuit to block the project.

Now, all the parties must agree to the settlement for it to become effective. Manatee County commissioners have gone along with the deal, as did the Holmes Beach City Commission and, last week, Bradenton Beach.

That city's Commissioner John Shaughnessy seemed to sum up the group's sentiments when he said, "I object to the project, but I don't want to put the city at risk of it costing us more money." No money has been spent by the cities in the legal battle to date.

St. Joe Co. acquired the western side of Perico Island about four years ago shortly after Bradenton annexed the property from Manatee County. The lawsuits then began to block the high-rise project.

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