Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Long Bar Pointe: Destroy the wonder

The last natural shoreline on Sarasota Bay is under threat from development again.
Long Bar Pointe is home to the bay’s best mangrove and seagrass ecosystem, its finest fishing grounds and its largest bird sanctuary.  The latest project from developer Carlos Beruff puts them all at risk.
Three years ago, Mr. Beruff tried to build a marina and dredge a boat channel through the mangroves at Long Bar Pointe, but ran afoul of the Manatee County Comprehensive Plan.  He tried to amend the plan to let him have his way, but the county turned him down.   After suing in vain for three years, he’s back.
Now, at a development called Aqua by the Bay, Mr. Beruff wants to:
  • Dredge a lagoon 2½ miles long, up to 150’ wide and 8’ deep right behind the mangrove fringe.
  • Build a seawall right behind the lagoon and nearly 3,000 homes above the seawall.
  • Construct at least one building 75’ tall and one 145’ tall – four times the legal limit.
He’d also like to install dozens of docks along the shore and, under a unique mitigation bank from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, trim more than a linear mile of the mangrove coast.
The lagoon, the seawall, the mangrove trimming, the mitigation bank, the docks and the density would:
  • Conflict with a more than a dozen local dredging and wetland protection laws.
  • Severely impact the mangroves and their ecological function.
  • Endanger the healthiest seagrass beds on Sarasota Bay.
  • Destroy the character of this peaceful coastline.
Responsible agencies stopped allowing lagoons and seawalls behind mangrove shorelines 40 years ago because scientists found they depleted ecological function and condemned mangroves to relentless decline.
13-story high rises on this coast would destroy its Old Florida feel, and replace a natural wonder found nowhere else with an artificial world you could find anywhere else.

Everything about this project would degrade this complex and fragile ecosystem.  There is no doubt Long Bar Pointe will be developed one day, but it should be done with the respect and care it deserves.

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