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East County Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020 8 months ago

Car lot plan advances in Manatee County

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County planning board approves auto sales as a potential use for a parcel near GreyHawk Landing.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Residents of GreyHawk Landing and surrounding neighborhoods who are unhappy with the possible addition of a car dealership will have to convince Manatee County commissioners Feb. 20 that it is not appropriate for an 18-acre parcel adjacent to those communities.

Cox Chevrolet intends to build a car dealership at the northwest corner of State Road 64 and 117th Street East. The development request is to rezone the land from agriculture to Urban Fringe 3 and approve a general development plan for up to 150,000 square feet

of commercial development. Possible uses for the property would include vehicle sales.

Applicant attorney Scott Rudacille confirmed during a meeting of the Manatee County Planning Commission on Jan. 16 the intended use is a car dealership. However, he said there is no franchise agreement between Cox Chevrolet and the property owners, Randy and Helaine Giddens. Commissioners must evaluate the application based on all the proposed uses.

Manatee County Planning Commissioners supported the rezone request 4-2 with Mike Rahn, Bill Conerly, Bill Smock and John Delesline in favor and Paul Rutledge and David Roth opposed. Dissenters said they worried about compatibility, traffic and flooding, while supporters said they could not justify a recommendation to deny.

Roth said he was concerned about flooding issues raised. He also said that in Sarasota, there’s a special zoning category called Commercial Intensive for projects like a car dealership, and something like that should be required here.

“We have an iffy use,” he said. “There’s water all over this place, … [and] nobody has a handle on the traffic. I have no problem with a neighborhood use. I don’t have a problem with a McDonald’s. I don’t have a problem with Advanced Auto. It’s commercial intensive, and I’m against it.”

GreyHawk Landing’s Rex Cowden, who spoke on behalf of residents with fellow GreyHawk resident John Rhodes, said they did not plan to change their presentation to Manatee County commissioners but hoped their arguments would be successful.

“This is not an appropriate use,” Cowden said. “The uses for this planned development commercial code is too broad; that’s regardless. They will allow just about anything. Some of these uses are more appropriate than others.”

This general development plan shows how the property may be developed in terms of buffering, stormwater retention, wetlands and paved areas. Courtesy rendering.

Rhodes and Cowden said residents support neighborhood commercial uses, such services as a pub or grocery store they and nearby residents would use. However, they believe a car dealership is a regional-type business and is inappropriate.

Rhodes said the county’s development policies say businesses there should be “neighborhood serving.” A dealership, he said, would be better suited for properties farther west, closer to the interstate, where regional-type commercial development, such as Costco and Gettel Toyota of Lakewood, have already occurred.

Residents cited concerns with noise and light pollution. Flooding and traffic were top concerns.

Several people spoke in support of Cox Chevrolet and said it was community-focused. Those in opposition said they had no problems with Cox but rather with the proposed land use.

Kris Cox, the president and CEO of Cox Chevrolet, declined comment.

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