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Sunday, Apr, 20, 2014
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County concerned about Arvida end-run

Investors hoping to buy an Arvida condominium on Perico Island in the near future might have to wait a little longer.

Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash is concerned that a proposed City of Bradenton comprehensive plan amendment to increase density in wetlands and conservation areas is nothing more than a "back-door" move to give Arvida the density it needs for its proposed Perico Island condominium project (The Islander, Nov. 5).

He's so concerned he's invoked procedures in the recently adopted interlocal agreement among Manatee's cities and county "The Accord" that will seek to settle the dispute prior to any serious adversarial challenge.

McClash said county staff will meet with Bradenton planning department officials next week to attempt to resolve differences over the proposed comp plan amendment.

If no resolution can be reached at staff level, the next step under the Accord is a joint meeting of the respective governing bodies of the disputing parties (Bradenton City Council and Manatee County Commission).

If no resolution on differences is reached at that meeting, said McClash, the county could decide to make its complaint "adversarial" and move it into the court system.

"Let's hope it doesn't come to that," said McClash.

McClash claims that concerns with the proposed Bradenton comp plan amendement and Arvida-Perico Island have nothing to do with the county's proposal to institute impact fees within city limits.

"This is a safety issue," among other areas of concern, he said.

If built, the Arvida project would seriously affect the Island and surrounding area of Manatee Avenue during an emergency evacuation such as a hurricane, McClash claimed.

He agreed it's strictly coincidental that Manatee County has proposed an impact fee on new construction within the six county muncipalities and Arvida plans to build 898 condo units on Perico Island that would net the county about $2 million in impact fees if the impact fee is passed before Arvida begins construction.

Arvida's proposed project has been challenged in court with two lawsuits by the environmental group ManaSota-88, one on the grounds that if built as planned, the density of the property would be inconsistent with Bradenton's current comprehensive plan. The second lawsuit concerns environmental issues.

A comp plan amendment, however, might remove the legal basis for that challenge, said attorney Dan Lobeck, who represents ManaSota-88.

That would pave the way for Arvida to begin construction as soon as the Florida Department of Community Affairs approves the amendment.

With McClash invoking provisions in the Accord, however, it would appear some county commissioners are gearing up for yet another legal challenge if Bradenton approves the amendment.

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