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East County Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 5 months ago

Commission approves rezone, car lot appears headed to SR 64 near Lakewood Ranch

Residents will try to appeal the commissioners' 4-3 decision, which allows commercial development at the corner of 117th Street and SR 64.
by: Brendan Lavell Staff Writer

Manatee County commissioners voted 4-3 in favor of rezoning property at the northwest corner of 117th Street East and State Road 64 near Lakewood Ranch to allow up to 150,000 square feet of commercial space Thursday that will clear the way for a Cox Chevrolet lot.

The commissioners had to consider the proposal from a quasi-judicial perspective. This means they weren't voting on whether or not they approve of the car lot project, but rather if Giddens Commercial Development, the property owners, and Cox could prove their plan falls in line with the county's laws and regulations.

Reggie Bellamy, Stephen Jonsson, Misty Servia and Carol Whitmore voted in favor of the project, while Priscilla Trace, Vanessa Baugh and Betsy Benac dissented for various reasons, including the arguments that heavy commercial use is incompatible with the surrounding residential areas and that the land itself, a floodplain, is not suitable for commercial development.

"I have seen some extraordinary efforts in this presentation," Servia said. "This project, we've heard today is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. It's consistent with the land development code. It meets the specific standards for any uses that have those standards, like a vehicle sales business. ... It meets all the criteria."

GreyHawk Landing's Walter Wulczak, one of many local residents who opposed the project, said an effort to appeal the decision through legal means will be made.

Brendan Lavell is a general assignment reporter for the Observer. He earned degrees in journalism and history at the University of Missouri. He has visited 48 of the 50 United States, has a black cat named Arya and roots for the Eagles, Flyers, Phillies, 76ers and Chelsea FC.

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