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Panther Ridge homeowners have placed signs like this one throughout their community, as well as along State Road 70, to raise awareness within their community and neighboring ones. File photo.
East County Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 3 years ago

Helistop arguments take off again

Manatee County commissioners to determine fate of Concession helistop.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

After a break in the action, the helistop issue is back.

Owners of The Concession Golf Club want to expand land uses on their property by adding a helistop.

Residents of the neighboring Panther Ridge and other communities are exercising their right to protest the proposed changes.

The Concession Golf Club on Feb. 2 will seek approval from the Manatee County Commission to allow construction of a private helistop as an accessory use to the golf course. It would be located adjacent to the clubhouse, rather than toward the community’s back entrance, near State Road 70, as originally proposed.

The Concession attorney Ed Vogler said the application complies with all county zoning codes and ordinances, including one carried forward from development approvals in 2004 that states “No helipad is allowed within this project unless approved by the Board of County Commissioners at a public hearing.”

The hearing has been delayed to give Vogler more time to move the original site of the heliport along with time to accumulate evidence in favor of having a heliport. 

“The owners of The Concession Golf Club had nothing to do with the original development approvals,” Vogler said. “They’ve created a world class facility there. In substance, every day in land-use law, plans that had been approved before are amended and modified and that’s what’s happening. This is not a restriction in the deed. This is a zoning ordinance.”

Panther Ridge neighbors, and others, have organized against the project, citing the flight of helicopters overhead will disrupt their rural way of life and could jeopardize safety of residents riding horses through their equestrian community, among other objections.

“Our position as residents living next door to this project remains the same. This is not a land-use that’s compatible with a residential Florida,” Panther Ridge resident Scott Andress said. “The state of Florida says it’s an airport, and you don’t just drop an airport into an existing residential community. Our land-use and land rights are being threatened.

"What about the flight path? This stuff is coming in over our houses. It affects our land use and it affects our land rights. The Concession expects us to give up rights for private benefit.”

Panther Ridge residents hired an attorney to help develop a legal defense and resident Daniela Drillman, one of the homeowners closest to the State Road 70 entrance to The Concession, will present arguments on behalf of owners.

Drillman wouldn’t divulge specifics, but said she believes “this issue will be favorably resolved for the homeowners of Panther Ridge and Lakewood Ranch that are opposed to this helistop.”

The County Commission is set to hear the item during its Feb. 2 land-use, which starts at 9 a.m. in the county’s administrative building, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton.

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