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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Land-clearing begins for Arvida's Perico condominiums
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Clearing way for Perico condos
Looking north at the ongoing land-clearing effort at the Perico/Arvida development project. Large numbers of pine trees are being cleared and an ongoing "controlled burn" of the materials is under the auspices of the Bradenton Fire Department. Islander Photo: Jack Elka

That smoke Islanders have seen rising from north Perico Island the past week isn't a brush fire. It's the beginning the initial phase of land-clearing for the Arvida-St. Joe project that will lead to construction of its 686-unit condominium project,

West Manatee Fire and Rescue Chief Andy Price confirmed the controlled burn was land-clearing, but his district is not involved in that process. The City of Bradenton Fire Department is supervising the activity as Perico Island - as most Islanders know - was annexed by Bradenton six years ago as a prelude to Arvida submitting a site plan to the city - and avoiding Manatee County impact fees.

The land-clearing was not unexpected, said Glenn Compton of ManaSota-88, the environmental group that joined with Manatee County and the three Island cities in a legal battle to overturn Bradenton's approval of the Arvida site plan. An out-of-court settlement was eventually reached in that lawsuit.

Efforts to reach Arvida officials in Orlando for comment on the land-clearing were unsuccessful.