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East County Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020 9 months ago

GreyHawk Landing residents and neighbors protest planned car dealership in Manatee County

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About 100 people show their opposition to a car lot just east of State Road 64 and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

GreyHawk Landing resident Richard Neff stood in front of the northwest corner of State Road 70 and 117th Street East on Jan. 25 and waved as vehicles drove past, honking their horns.

They had been noticed, and that was the goal.

Neff was one of about 100 people who gathered along the State Road 64 sidewalk to wave at cars and hold signs protesting Cox Chevrolet’s plans to build a dealership on the 18-acre parcel there.

“It’s a totally inappropriate use,” Neff said of why he joined the protest.

Manatee County commissioners are slated to vote on the item during their Feb. 20 land-use meeting. Property owners Randy and Helaine Giddens are asking to rezone the land from agriculture to Urban Fringe 3 and to approve a general development plan for up to 150,000 square feet of commercial development. One of the allowed uses is auto sales, and Cox Chevrolet has confirmed it intends to build there.

Protesters said a car dealership is not compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods, and they also worried about traffic on 117th Street East and S.R. 64, safety, noise and light pollution, and flooding.

Protest co-organizer Lindsay Rushmore, a resident of GreyHawk Landing, said residents wanted Manatee County commissioners to know their stance.

“The people who voted for them don’t support [this],” Rushmore said. 

The Manatee County Planning Commission recommended approval with a 4-2 vote Jan. 16. Mike Rahn, Bill Conerly, Bill Smock and John Delesline voted in favor, and Paul Rutledge and David Roth opposed. Dissenters said they worried about compatibility, traffic and flooding, while supporters said they couldn’t justify a recommendation to deny.

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