No Decision Yet on Aqua By The Bay



Developer Carlos Beruff on Wednesday told Manatee County Commissioners that environmental aspects drove his proposal for Aqua By The Bay, but neighbors and residents remain wary of what the project might do both to the coastal property and roadways already prone to congestion. It remains an open question whether the project will move forward, with Manatee County Commissioners ending an all-day hearing on testimony with plans to take the matter back up on Aug. 23, by which point the developer plans to have submitted revisions to the proposal discussed at the meeting on Wednesday.

Beruff, founder of Medallion Home, spoke to the commission early in the Wednesday meeting, promising an explanation of the vision from the “horse’s mouth.” He is seeking approval of rezoning and a seven-phase development plan on the 529-acre site, located between El Conquistador Parkway and Sarasota Bay, which would allow for 78,000 square feet of retail commercial and general commercial use limited to 3,000 square feet, and construction of up to 2,384 multi-family housing units and 510 lots for single-family residences, as well as accompanying docks and recreational amenities.

The developer said his plan for the land was more than two years in the making, a process he would only start after speaking to an expert about how storm surge and sea level rise would impact the land. His plan involves raising the land to accommodate for coastal issues. “It will be like if you build a subdivision in East Bradenton,” he says. “I’m thinking 50 years out." Beruff said the site will be able to handle being hit by a hurricane when one inevitably hits the area. He also, in advance of the meeting, sought state approvals related to mitigation of impact on mangroves.

Neighbors around the large site, though, remain concerned about the traffic impact and the impact on sensitive areas like an oak hammock. Karen Willey, owner of Around The Bend Nature Tours, cited a report predicting a 17-inch rise in sea level rise in the area by 2030, which means mangroves would need to migrate further inland. Critics called the plan a compromise of a community treasure for the benefit of a developer.

“They want to take away the last of our coastline and build lagoons behind the mangroves, which will ruin the estuary for all of us and could destroy Cortez,” Ann Medlin Hall, a critic of the proposal, told SRQ. “They want to put up 14 story buildings(multiple), which is ludicrous.”

Beruff said he would stipulate that any building taller than 95 feet would have to come back to the commission for a specific approval.

Rendering submitted for Aqua By The Bay proposal.

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