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East County Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020 7 months ago

Manatee County commissioners consider car lot's fate

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Residents who oppose a possible Cox Chevrolet lot want their concerns heard at land-use hearing.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Residents of GreyHawk Landing, Windsong Acres and other neighboring communities want to make their voices heard Feb. 20 as Manatee County commissioners consider a proposal allowing commercial development at the northwest corner of State Road 64 and 117th Street East.

Property owners Helaine and Randy Giddens seek approval for up to 150,000 square feet of commercial space on their 18-acre property there. Cox Chevrolet has announced its intent to build a car dealership on the site.

“The bottom line rub here is a car dealership is not a neighborhood activity,” said GreyHawk Landing resident John Rhodes, who will present on behalf of the residents at the Feb. 20 meeting. “It’s a regional activity. It needs to be by an interstate, not a community. They don’t just sell cars to people within 3 miles of here. They sell cars to people 30 to 40 miles from here.”

Rhodes said a car dealership, by nature, produces noise and light pollution and is not a suitable use for the property. He also said the site has flooding problems.

According to a site plan submitted to Manatee County, the applicant proposes to reroute a tributary of Gates Creek from the center of the property to the western boundary.

Maria Sine, who lives in the Osprey Landing neighborhood directly north of the site, said she is worried about traffic flow. Traffic coming into the dealership likely will have to turn north onto 117th Street East, which is a two-lane road exclusively serving residential properties at this time.

“Other traffic will have to make a U-turn at the intersection to make a westbound access of S.R. 64,” Sine said. “This intersection is already dangerous with many near hits as people try to make turns onto 117th or make U-turns.”

Sine also said she is concerned about the impact on property values.

“We are not opposed to commercial development,” she said. “We would like to see businesses which more directly serve the community and do not make such a huge impact on the environment.”

Manatee County commissioners cannot consider the rezoning request based on the Cox Chevrolet proposal but instead must evaluate the request simply as allowing commercial uses, such as agricultural research facilities, pet service establishments and veterinary clinics, a gas station, a drive-thru restaurant, retail sales, vehicle sales and leasing, and a restaurant.

The Manatee County Planning Commission, an advisory board on land-use issues, recommended approval of the application 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 could not justify a recommendation to deny.

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