The Manatee County Board of County Commissioners voted yesterday to delay a decision on a project that would build 195 residential units on 77 acres of wooded property on the north side of Waterline Road.
The decision to continue a public hearing on the East Manatee housing proposal, called the Martin-Hillwood project, came after more than 20 Waterline Road homeowners, organized into a group called Preserve Our Waterline Road, Inc. (POWeR), voiced their displeasure with the plan.
POWeR, headed by Waterline Road residents Jack Richardson, Tim Almeter and Jeanetee Abel, sent a petition signed by more than 350 people to the commission the night before the May 2 commission meeting.
The petition cited concerns about increased traffic along the rural Waterline Road, harm to wildlife life like gopher tortoises and scrubjay, and the incompatibility of the proposed “low-impact”, clustered development with the area.
County staff says the plan would preserve 15 acres of the project for native habitat and that the smaller lot size of the proposed homes would cover less land.
Mary Jane Martin Smith and Richard I. Martin have owned the land in question since 1957.
In 2008, the landowners proposed the land be turned into 119 residential lots.
Commissioners reviewed that proposal in 2008 and agreed to continue a public hearing on it.
A revised plan by the applicant, with 195 units, was not considered until now.
Caleb Grimes, an attorney representing the property owners, said development on the land has been planned since 1989, when it was designated “urban fringe.”
The public hearing will continue at the commission’s next land-use meeting June 6.