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East County Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020 1 week ago

Manatee County to decide on Cox Chevrolet's east Bradenton plans

Oct. 22 land use hearing to decide if a dealership will be built at State Road 64 and 117th Street.
by: Brendan Lavell Staff Writer

Eight months after Manatee County Commissioners granted a continuance, the decision on whether to allow 150,000 square feet of commercial space on an 18-acre parcel along State Road 64 is expected to be decided at an Oct. 22 land use meeting.

The decision — whether to rezone the property at the northwest corner of S.R. 64 and 117th Street East from agriculture to planned development commercial — will be significant because Cox Chevrolet is planning a car dealership at the site.

The lot owners, Helaine and Randy Giddens, are represented by Attorney Scott Rudacille, who said the continuance led to better coordination with the Florida Department of Transportation to ensure the site plan would be compatible with the traffic light being installed at the intersection, and to prepare stormwater calculations. He also said Cox Chevrolet representatives wanted to meet with residents who wished to express their concerns.

The Manatee County Planning Commission recommended approval of the plan by a 4-2 margin Jan. 16.

John Rhodes, a GreyHawk Landing resident and retired civil engineer, said he doesn’t think the planned retention pond will be enough to counteract paving over most of the floodplain when it comes to flooding issues. Manatee County Stormwater Division Manager Thomas Gerstenberger said in February the county has accepted the results of Cox’s drainage plan that were developed using on-site topographic survey information, permit data from surrounding development, widening improvements to S.R. 64 land data and photos from county staff. Although the county hasn’t studied the Gates Creek watershed since 1998, a stormwater review will be required before Cox can build on the land, if the rezone is approved.

The continuance since Feb. 20 didn't diminish the furor of nearby residents, who are opposed to have a car dealership built in close proximity to their neighborhoods.

The site is surrounded by residential communities such as Osprey Landing, Copperlefe and Gates Creek to the north; Missionary Landing and Greyhawk Landing to the east; Woodleaf Hammock, Summerhouse, Eagle Trace, Arbor Grande and Serenity Creek to the south; and Windsong Acres to the west. Less than a quarter-mile to the west, however, is a commercial center that includes Publix, Walgreens, restaurants, banks and gas stations.

(From left) Windsong Acres residents Daryl Haworth, Arlan Cummings, Robin Hankinson, Howard Duff and Bennie Bundrage are worried the dealership will decrease their home value and increase flooding, among other concerns.

Some residents are worried about noise, light pollution and other aspects of the dealership depreciating the value of their homes. Maria Sine, an Osprey Landing resident whose backyard borders the site, had no idea the dealership was a possibility when she moved in two years ago.

“We looked in the backyard and there's gorgeous landscaping and big trees and we thought, ‘Oh, this is really nice,’” Sine said. “Only to find out that the plans for it would be changed and they were going to knock everything down and put in a car dealership. Had we known that ahead of time, we wouldn't have bought this property. Who wants to buy a house which has a car dealership in the backyard?”

Another concern raised by residents is traffic. However, Rudacille said Cox would be required to prove its infrastructure will meet the county’s standards for traffic conditions.

“Frankly, an auto dealership is not on the higher end in terms of traffic generation ... compared to other commercial uses,” Rudacille said.

Serenity Creek resident Lindsay Rushmore said the dealership is "not compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods, not a neighborhood-serving business. Not good for the environment. Not good for that very congested corner."

More than 100 residents from communities surrounding the site attended February’s meeting to show opposition. Opponents of a possible car lot expect a similar turnout Oct. 22. Rudacille said those in opposition have opposed support from residents on a broader, county-wide level.

“I think you’ll hear people coming out in support of it at the meeting,” Rudacille said. “And I think the impact on the county as a whole is being lost if we’re focusing on the folks who are in the area surrounding the project.”

“Would the Cox family want to have a dealership in their backyard?” asked Lindsay Rushmore, a Serenity Creek resident.

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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