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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

New Arvida site plan heads to Bradenton Planning Commission

Island residents will hold their collective breath May 19 as the revised Arvida site plan for its proposed Perico Island condominium project goes before the Bradenton Planning Commission that day. A favorable recommendation by the commission will send the issue to the Bradenton City Council, which approved the original Arvida plan in 2000.

Opponents of the project are concerned because the new Arvida site plan calls for 668 condominium units. Not surprisingly, that's the maximum number that can be built on the property under the city's current comprehensive plan.

Arvida's site plan in 2000 called for 898 units, prompting a lawsuit by the environmental group ManaSota-88 and another by a group of concerned citizens. The suits claimed, among other objections, that the proposal and number of units did not fit with the City of Bradenton's comprehensive land-use plan.

But the new Arvida proposal might meet all the requirements of the Bradenton land-use plan, rendering ManaSota 88's current lawsuit moot.

"Obviously, we're very concerned now about our legal challenges," said Glenn Compton of ManaSota-88.

"Although our lawsuits against the 898 units are still pending until we get a court resolution," noted Compton, "this latest Arvida effort might negate that challenge."

Compton and other opponents plan to register objections at the May 19 meeting. In addition, said Compton, his organization will study the new plan to see if there are any potential legal challenges in the proposal.

ManaSota-88 and the three Island cities, Manatee County, along with the group Concerned Citizens of Manatee County, already have two lawsuits against the original site plan approved by the City of Bradenton in 2000.

"We are going to look at all our options once we review the new site plan. We haven't reached the point yet where we can't continue our challenges."

He acknowledged, however, that it's apparent Arvida isn't backing down on its determination to build on Perico Island, and the day may come when ManaSota-88 finds it is no longer economically feasible to continue legal objections.

"We're not there yet," he added, "but we're just one small organization fighting the largest land-holding company in Florida. We rely upon donations for our legal services, while they've got high-paid corporate lawyers on their side.

"We'll have to study the outcome of the new plan for any [future] legal challenges. There's no guarantee that the City of Bradenton will approve what Arvida is proposing. We're in a 'wait and see' mode, but right now, the ball is in Bradenton's court. We have to see what, if anything, is approved, then study that for legal issues we might have," Compton concluded.

He noted that if the 668-unit project is approved and built, it would have about 1,600 residents when sold out.

That's 1,600 people trying to get on and off two-lane Manatee Avenue a few hundred yards from the Anna Maria Bridge, Compton observed.

The first thing Arvida residents will demand is a traffic light at the Arvida-Manatee Avenue intersection, he claimed. Then will come the request for retail-office space at the complex, followed by an outcry to four-lane Manatee Avenue. And those 1,600 people and their vehicles will be here in full force during the winter tourist season, Compton observed.