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East County Wednesday, Jul. 1, 2020 2 months ago

Manatee County Commission nixes Concession development in Lakewood Ranch area

Plans for The Concession Phase IV turned down Manatee County commissioners.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Some residents of The Concession and Panther Ridge communities breathed a sigh of relief Thursday after Manatee County commissioners voted against the construction of 22 single-family homes they didn’t believe were compatible with the community.

The board voted 6-1 against plans to build the homes on 17 acres at the northeast corner of Lindrick Lane and State Road 70. The property is currently home to a trail — an abandoned railroad easement from the 1930s — that’s been used by Panther Ridge residents for horseback riding, biking and walking for about 20 years.

Residents said the project is not compatible with their more rural neighborhoods — Panther Ridge has 5- to 15-acre lots compared with a proposal for lots as small as a quarter-acre — and also that the property provides important wildlife habitat, helps curb flooding on neighboring properties and was never shown as a site for development on The Concession’s original plans.

The land is east of Manatee County’s future development area boundary, which is meant to preserve rural and agricultural areas from dense development. Those areas typically have their own water and septic systems, though The Concession does have private lines that connect to Manatee County utilities.

“To me, the story is that the County Commission decided to hold the line on urban sprawl,” said Dan Lobeck, the attorney representing the Foxwood at Panther Ridge Homeowners Association in the matter.

Panther Ridge resident Maggie Mooney said Panther Ridge residents did a good job of making sure commissioners understood how such a project would impact their way of life and the value of the trail system that runs through the property.

“[The commissioners] are protecting the rural and agricultural character of the eastern Manatee County,” she said.

Residents of The Concession who opposed the project said the area helps them with flooding, as well. They also were concerned about the developer’s plans to tap into The Concession’s private water and sewer lines, which already are experiencing pressure problems.

Concession resident Pamela Donahue said her property 3/4 of a mile south of the site, on Lindrick Lane, can get up to 18 inches of water during a two-day rain. Developing the site would have far-reaching consequences.

“It’s bound to affect us,” Donahue said. “That, plus the cost we homeowners will be hit with, with the private sewer. We’re extremely concerned about that.”

Applicant representative and planner Rachel Layton, of ZNS Engineering, said she considered the proposed plans to be “clustered” development, which is allowed under the county’s development guidelines to help create open space and preserve land.

The property would be considered phase four of The Concession’s overall 1,279-acre boundary, though it would be outside the main gated entrance and be its own private, gated community.

Commissioner Misty Servia, a former county planner, said urban sprawl in that area already happened starting 20 years ago.

Commissioner Betsy Benac, also a former county planner, disagreed.

She argued that having a variety of housing types, such as smaller lots, is meant for suburban and urban areas, not rural communities. She said she did not believe the plan was compatible, and the original development order for The Concession clearly indicates lots should be larger.

“I think there is significant evidence in this record to deny this project,” she said. “I don’t think we’re under any obligation to give them maximum density.”

The proposed units are a combination of homes that were planned within the The Concession development but never built, along with plans for 16 villas on golf course property that were approved in 2009.

The request would have transferred those units to the S.R. 70 property.

The Concession developer Kevin Daves, of Core Development Inc., told commissioners the project was planned to be compatible in architecture to The Concession and that buyers are looking for smaller lots.

“I have no question this will be something the neighbors will be proud of, and their concerns will go away,” he said during the meeting.

Because county commissioners did not support the project, they will have to adopt an ordinance formally denying the land-use request at their July 22 land-use meeting. The vote will make the denial of the project official.

Daves declined comment immediately after the meeting and did not respond to inquiries before press time Tuesday.

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