Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sometimes, the People Win -but maybe not - UPDATE

Bradenton Times follow-up to eariier story (below):

Beruff Seeks ACOE Approval for Long Bar Mitigation Bank Amidst Claims of Undue Influence by Former DEP Employees

Dennis Maley
Tuesday, Mar 07, 2017
BRADENTON — Following DEP's recent green light, Medallion Homes CEO and Long Bar Pointe Developer Carlos Beruff has applied to the Army Corps of Engineers for a mitigation bank permit that would vastly alter the allowable development at his controversial waterfront project on Sarasota Bay. Meanwhile, a DEP employee who was suspended after failing to recommend approval for a similar bank, has finally spoken out about the developer’s influence with the agency.

Manatee County may have won an important victory against the politically-connected developer when an appeals court judge recently upheld a decision that ruled against Beruff's challenge to the constitutionality of elements of the county's comp plan that were used to deny him the ability to build a hotel and marina, while dredging critical waters in Sarasota Bay. However, Beruff is continuing the pursuit of what may amount to an end around on some of those rules through the use of a mitigation bank that would provide him with credits that could be used to facilitate the dredging.

Despite firm opposition from the public and several environmental groups, DEP put out a notice of intent to issue approval for a similar application to their agency in December. An employee who was suspended from DEP in 2012, after recommending against a similar bank in Clay County, told Politico on Thursday that she also authored a memo reviewing Beruff's mitigation bank application, but that it was never put out by her superiors.

"That was the first indication that he (Beruff) was going to control what was done with that project," former DEP environmental administrator Connie Bersok told Politico. "That was the clue. And things sort of went downhill from there."

. . . from the Bradenton Times:

Hats Off to the County for Victory in Long Bar Pointe Case

Dennis Maley
Sunday, Mar 05, 2017
Too often it seems, a political columnist is forced to dwell on negative outcomes or dubious decisions. Trust me, I'd always prefer to celebrate a happy ending, and this story provides just that.

On February 24, Manatee County prevailed in a lawsuit filed by politically-connected developer Carlos Beruff over the limitations imposed on his controversial Long Bar Pointe project by the county's comprehensive land use plan. The importance of this victory would be hard to overstate.

Carlos Beruff
Long Bar Pointe is a series of housing developments Beruff is building on the last major undeveloped portion of Sarasota Bay in southwest Manatee County. Had Beruff and his partner on the project, Larry Lieberman, gotten their way, protected mangroves would have been replaced by a stone promenade, a marina, a navigational channel, and possibly a hotel, all just south of the historic Cortez fishing village. Among other worrisome concerns, it would have required a major dredging in a very environmentally-sensitive area that is critical to our local fisheries and sea grass formations.

The county approved the project only after the BOCC appeared to have reached a deal of sorts with the developers, who agreed to withdraw the hotel and marina portion of their application during a contentious meeting that drew so many members of the public that it had to be moved to the local convention center. Only once they got the nod on some of what they wanted, Beruff and Lieberman turned around and filed suit in order to get the rest. (emphasis added)

Continue reading . . .

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