County Commissioners approve Development Across Shell Point Road by Mitch E. Perry

08/22/06

Despite opposition from neighborhood environmental groups and previous denials, the Hillsborough County Commission today approved a development on Shell Point Road in Ruskin.

The original proposal for the developer, Manatee Bay Associates, was voted down by the Board earlier this year. But Manatee Bay then asked for a Relief Hearing before a special magistrate, where they pared down their original proposal somewhat – asking for 327 condos instead of 360, as well as providing a traffic study to prove that Shell Point Road CAN handle the additional traffic that would ensue with the development.

One reason that County staff had recommended to the Board to reject the earlier proposal was because Shell Point Road was considered a failing road. But Keith Bricklemeyer, attorney for Manatee Bay Associates, said the traffic study shows that’s no longer the case, as he advocated before the Commission (roll tape#1 o.q.�in this area�) The Commission Chambers were packed with both supporters and critics of the proposed development. But Commission Chairman Jim Norman, saying it was not a public hearing, asked to limit debate and the number of speakers from either side.

Mariella Smith is one of the leading advocates against this and other developments in Ruskin….Wearing a White T-Shirt reading, “Save Our River and Ruskin�, she began her presentation by blasting the developers, leading to a rebuke from County staff (roll tape# o.q. “for the board today�)

Smith then went ahead, blasting the project as being fiscally irresponsible for the area (roll tape#3 o.q.�in this area�)

Smith also dismissed the Traffic study conducted by Manatee Bay Associates (roll tape#4 o.q.’on highway 41�)

Given 2 minutes for a rebuttal, Manatee Bay attorney Keith Bricklemeyer took issue with opponents of the development (roll tape#5 o.q.�to adhere to�)

Commissioner Kathy Castor, a critic of the development, then called for a motion to reject the proposal (roll tape#6 o.q.�its original decision�)

But Castor’s proposal to reject was itself reject on a 4-3 vote…Joining her in opposition was Ronda Storms and Brian Blair.

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