MANATEE COUNTY - The ongoing controversy over the development of Long Bar Pointe could come to a head tonight, as commissioners are set to vote on two plan amendments for the project.
Normally, meetings like this are held at the Manatee County Commission Chambers. This one though is happening at the Bradenton Area Convention Center. There are several hundred people inside the building attending the meeting, which just goes to show how contentious this issue has become.
At the center of this meeting is the proposal to develop Long Bar Pointe on Sarasota Bay in Manatee County.
Plans call for 2,700 residences, a 250-room hotel, and 15,000 square feet of retail space. Developers say the plan would net almost 1,000 jobs for Manatee County and attract even more tourists to the area.
Opponents of the plan though say the damage to the environment, particularly the waterfront, would be devastating. Environmentalists cite the destruction of mangroves and sea grasses.
The developers have said their project will have a minimal impact on the environment.
County commissioners are not voting on whether or not to approve the project tonight. They are actually voting on a map amendment, which is a document that guides future development use. Currently, the area is only mapped for residential use. The commissioners could vote to change that to a mixed use area, which would pave the way for retail and expanded residential space.
There are more than 100 people signed up to speak on the issue after the official presentations are over. Each person gets three minutes so it could be several hours before a vote is reached. Also keep in mind that commissioners could decide to delay the vote if the issue becomes too drawn out or contentious.