Manatee County Needs to Control Development

As a Realtor, I’m often accused of supporting the developers who have built, and built, and overbuilt our natural environment.

It’s not so.

In fact, I love where I live on  Anna Maria Island: the Gulf of Mexico, Cortez fishing village, Sarasota and Tampa Bays, the Manatee River, the many conservation areas that previous Manatee County Commissions have set aside, like Robinson, Duette, and Emerson Point Preserves to name a few.

One of the reasons I moved to Manatee County was because of the natural-ness of the environment. It was part of what I remembered as a kid growing up in Pompano Beach. Wild, unspoiled, natural areas right next to towns and villages. There it was the Everglades. Here it’s something else, more a subtropical wilderness that changes from seashore to the interior, but all important to the human spirit, the human need to breathe fresh, clean air, with a dark night sky above and clean water and land below.

There’s still a chance, a slight chance, that we can keep what makes Manatee County a special place to live. But the developers, like Pat Neal, Carlos Beruff, Lakewood Ranch and now Preston Whiting and the Manatee Fruit Company are now poised to bring many, many thousands of new homes on the market in the next decade or two.

Is there substantial pressure on our resources because a lot of people want what I wanted when I moved here? You bet. But there could be a way to temper that development, make it more human in scale and friendly to the natural land on which it will be built. Sadly, the current Manatee County Commissioners are likely to continue to rubber-stamp the developers’ plans, which are designed primarily to enrich themselves at the risk of impoverishing the taxpayers and the environment.

In a previous lifetime, I was indeed a marketer of developers, builders and other for-profit concerns in the property business. I helped sell over $1 Billion in single family homes, condos, townhomes and other real estate as a marketing, advertising and public relations professional.

It was easy to say that it was all market forces at work, and indeed, that is so. But market forces (read unbridled capitalism) need some controls, or our Anna Maria Island, Manatee County, Florida, heck — the entire world! — will all go straight down the tubes.

But I also worked for a number of important non-profit entities in my marketing career, including the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, the Sarasota County Arts Council, both Sarasota and Manatee County School Districts,  and Manatee Glens, which helps provide mental health and addictions counseling to those in need.

I gave of my time and money to the Pace Center for Girls, the Great Outdoors Conservancy, Circus Sarasota, and served on the board of governors of Manatee Technical Institute. And of course, I am a member of the Manatee Audubon Society.

So, now, as a Realtor/Tree Hugger, I’m happy to help people buy and sell places, but I’m no longer a fan of big developers. And frankly, if you value our unique environment in Manatee County, you may want to think twice about how you vote this November.

Writer John Rehill of The Bradenton Times hits the nail on the head with this editorial. Says what we all ought to be thinking. And the uncontrolled development needs to be reined in somewhat, if what we love about where we live is to have any chance of survival.

Read this: CLICK HERE

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