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Date of Issue: July 05, 2006

Cortez proposal gets chilly reception

A neighborhood meeting on a Cortez residential development proposal was disappointing all around, so another try will come along later.

The turnout was very slim for the meeting last week on the proposed Holiday Cove RV Park conversion to a major residential complex, and nothing was settled. The proposal was outlined and reactions recorded, and that was temporarily that.

Aristotle Shinas, principal planner for Manatee County, said another neighborhood meeting will be set up when revised plans are submitted and evaluated by county staff.

There appears to be no hurry about getting started on any development, however. At Holiday Cove, an employee said the resort is full and "we’re taking reservations for three years ahead."

Stanley Riggs, Holiday Cove resort owner and president of Federal Resort Properties, was not available by press time.

Proposed in the preliminary offering was extensive development on the site at 11900 Cortez Road, across the road from the historic fishing village itself.

Holiday Cove RV Park now has 112 RV sites on just under nine acres. The preliminary site plan envisioned 78 multi-family residential units in two four-story buildings over parking, for a maximum height of 45 feet above the base flood elevation. Twenty-one existing boat docks would remain.

Residents of Cortez at the meeting and the county staff had similar concerns, mostly to do with the mass and height of the buildings.

"How would this fit in with Cortez?" was the question that bothered most. The village is nearly all single-story dwellings, with a few two- and three-story homes.

Shinas detailed the county staff concerns: The mass and scale of the buildings would be out of keeping with the neighborhood. The visual impact from just about anywhere in the area would be jarring and unacceptable. The plans didn’t provide adequate buffers in the way of landscaping. And density - nothing in the area is comparable in population-per-space.

Shinas wants to hear reactions of more Cortezians than the handful at the meeting, and expressed disappointment at the low turnout. Maybe next time will be more rewarding, and he will arrange another meeting when he has revised plans in hand from the developer.