Hillsborough rejects development in Little Manatee River
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04/07/09 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

Hillsborough County Commissioners today rejected a developer’s request to build homes on a slice of land near the Little Manatee River in Ruskin, and instead said they would forward the issue to their environmental lands acquisition department for possible purchase.

Richard Davis, the attorney representing the developer Little Manatee Reserve, read off a lengthy brief from the county’s own staff praising the project.

Davis quoted a biologist as saying that no listed wildlife species have been observed on the site, with the exception of waiting birds.

But members of the community strongly argued that the County Commission should not approve the development.

Activist Mariella Smith presented the board with a list of county policies that she said would be violated by allowing for the rezoning of the property.

Anita Jimenez said the property is actually in the Manatee River, which floods frequently.

Vivian Handy said she is was a professional biologist, who was extremely concerned about the project being approved.

Commissioner Mark Sharpe said if there was Category 1 hurricane, the area would be completely destroyed, and therefore he could not support it.

Kevin Beckner discussed the issue of property insurance in describing why he would oppose it.

Commissioner Jim Norman suggested that they forward the land over to the County’s environmental land acquisition department, known as ELAPP.

But Attorney Richard Davis disagreed.

Ultimately, the Board voted 6-1 to reject the project, with Commissioner Norman the only nay vote.

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