Landowners want Waterline Road project overturned

 

Landowners want Waterline Road project overturned

 

Date: October 23, 2013
by: Josh Siegel | Staff Writer

 
 

EAST COUNTY — After the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners denied a plan for a 175-home community on Waterline Road in September, landowners are moving to get the ruling changed.

Less than a month after the Manatee County Commission denied a development plan for the proposed residential community on 77.9 acres along Waterline Road, Mary Jane Martin Smith and her husband, Richard I. Martin, are suing the county and seeking review of the decision.

The suit, called a petition for writ of certiorari, filed Oct. 8 by Derin Parks on behalf of the estate of Mary Jane Martin in Manatee County Circuit Court, comes with a caveat.

Using a right given by Florida Statute 70.51, the landowners have issued an administrative appeal with the county that calls for a mediation session.

If the issue is resolved via an independent hearing officer — with either the plan approved as is or amended to appease both parties — the lawsuit will be tossed out.

Section 70.51, also called the Florida Land Use and Environmental Dispute Resolution Act, says any landowner who believes a development order is unreasonable can apply within 30 days of the decision for a “request for relief.”

Parks is an attorney for Grimes Goebel Grimes Hawkins Gladfelter & Galvano. Caleb Grimes, the lead attorney there, represented Smith and Martin at the September land-use meeting.

Grimes said the county and his clients already have agreed to appoint Gary Larson, a mediator out of Sarasota, to arbitrate a hearing.

That meeting would likely take place early next year.

For the landowners, relief will only come if the plan is approved as is.

“We’re looking to get it approved as it was and as county staff had recommended it be approved,” Grimes said. “We will put a hold on the lawsuit until we see if we can solve this with mediation. By doing that, we are protecting the landowners’ rights.”

In May, by a 5-2 vote at the end of a contentious, day-long meeting, the commission turned back the plan, even though some board members acknowledged nothing in the county’s rules allowed them to do so.


Since 1989, the county’s Comprehensive Plan has said the road lies in an area that’s designated to be developed.

Waterline Road is a collector road designed to collect stormwater and channel it.

The land, on the north side of Waterline Road, and 1.8 miles east of Rye Road, has been in Mary Jane Martin Smith’s family since 1957.

However, commissioners sided with a vocal group of residents who petitioned and organized themselves into a group called Preserve Our Waterline Road Inc.

The board mostly denied the plan because of the peculiarity of Waterline Road, a road with no sidewalks surrounded by palmettos and shrubs and wooded 5- and 10-acre lots.

The decision came as Grimes made concessions to commissioners aimed to do something different with the development — required by the uniqueness of the property.

Grimes dropped the number of homes from 195 to 175, after commissioners worried about the development’s density.



He promised a 50-foot buffer around the entire community, separating it from the farms and wildlife nearby. 


He agreed to preserve a minimum of 15 acres for upland habitat.



He also offered the option to build in the style of low-impact development, a fresh approach that clusters homes close together, more efficiently manages stormwater and preserves open space. 



Commissioners could not promise low-impact design, however, because the county does not yet have standard for it.

“We disagree with the ruling because there wasn’t a valid reason to turn it down,” Grimes said.

Section 70.51, also called the Florida Land Use and Environmental Dispute Resolution Act, says any landowner who believes a development order is unreasonable can apply within 30 days of the decision for a “request for relief.”

Contact Josh Siegel at jsiegel@yourobserver.com.

 

SHARE
Login Register now

Currently 0 Responses

Login below to post a comment or click register.
Account E-Mail
Password
forgot password? click here
Speak Your Mind Below!


1970 Main Street, Sarasota, FL 34236 941-366-3468

Copyright 2014 The Observer Group Inc., All Rights Reserved