Manatee County Commission votes in favor of a 600-home community near Evers Reservoir.
Mote Ranch's John Swart made one last pitch to convince Manatee County Commissioners not to approve a plan for the construction of 600 single- and multi-family homes on 200 acres just west of Evers Reservoir and north of Honore Avenue in Manatee County.
His plea failed.
On May 3, the Commissioners voted 5-2 in favor of approving the Taylor Morrison project, which could be multi-family or single family homes. The approval changed the zoning from public/semi-public to residential with up to six units per acre.
“I think it’s a poor site plan, and I think the traffic will only get worse on Honore,” said Swart, who said he was representing 15 other local residents at the land use meeting. "A multi-family building will just not fit into what the other houses on Honore look like. I recommend that they only approve building for single-family homes.”
The project previously had been criticized for its potential to snarl traffic on Honore Avenue. The county's planning staff conducted a study that said the development would add an average of almost 400 cars to Honore Avenue at peak hours and the additional cars wouldn't create traffic problems.
Residents such as Swart didn't agree.
Other complaints about the project involved possible flooding. The area originally was intended to be an area to absorb runoff from Evers Reservoir.
Taylor Morrison attorney Darenda Marvin told commissioners the reason the builder wanted approval for a variety of multi-family homes on the site was to keep its options open. Marvin said homes of any type built in the development would resemble those at Esplanade Golf & Country Club in Lakewood Ranch, which was built by Taylor Morrison.
Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who represents the Lakewood Ranch area in District 5, said traffic was the main issue she voted against the project.
Baugh said the county and the City of Bradenton should have worked together to extend Natalie Way so residents of the new development could have taken that road right to State Road 70 so Honore Avenue wouldn't take the brunt of the traffic.
"When you have the chance to be proactive, you have to jump at it," Baugh said.
Now that the project has been approved, Baugh said roundabouts should be considered for Honore Avenue to help keep the traffic flowing. "We will be asking public works to look at Honore and come up with some viable solutions," she said.
Baugh said she was not worried about the new development homes blending with the existing communities.
"Taylor Morrison builds a beautiful home," she said. "This was nothing against the builder. But you do have that traffic congestion."
The Manatee County Planning Commission approved the project 5-1 on April 12.
Taylor Morrison purchased the land for $10.5 million from the city of Bradenton in 2016.