Now Let's Really Set the Record Straight

Below are the “Rumor” statements made by the Long Bar Pointe developers followed by what they say is "reality". The real facts have been inserted in red.

The Project will destroy (damage) the sea grass and the life it supports.
The project proposes a narrow channel (60 feet wide) that will be a dedicated area in which small boats can travel. Boats frequently stray outside the channel.This channel will only be five feet deep and will be the only access point from land to the existing channel which is quite far away. The straight line distance from the present shore of LBP to the Inter-Coastal Waterway is over 1.5 miles. The distance to the closest "deep" water is over a half mile, but leads only NW. The balance of the 2.9 miles (hundreds of acres) of sea grass will then be designated a poll and troll area to ensure there is no further risk of prop scarring and damage. Good idea and should be done regardless. This proposal of a narrow designated boat channel is in huge contrast to the current “drive your boat anywhere you want” status quo which has drastically scarred the existing sea grass beds. In addition, remediation efforts to restore the existing damage will be done before the developer owned property is turned over to the State (How can you turn State property over to the State?) to be protected in perpetuity.
The Project will tear out some of the mangroves and chop most of the remaining mangroves down to a height of six feet and destroy (severely damage) the ecosystem that the mangroves support.
The Long Bar Pointe plan proposes an impact of less than 10% of the existing mangroves. Look at the map. It appears that approximately one-third of the mangroves will be removed and that most of the rest along the shoreline will be cut down to six feet. Mangroves will then be replanted (mitigated) at a site (that means someplace else maybe even in another county and the success rate is VERY low) where they will provide high environmental benefits. Currently the mangroves are competing with non-indigenous, nuisance species of pepper trees. These trees can keep the mangroves from developing a healthy wetland system. Part of the Long Bar Pointe project includes removal of the nuisance pepper trees allowing the mangroves to regenerate, growing stronger and denser, further protecting the shoreline from erosion and supporting the ecosystem. In our plan, a significant number of the mangroves will remain (we need more specific information about this) in their natural state and not be trimmed.
The Project will dig a giant channel for 100-foot yachts (This is what the developers first requested so that is where that number comes from.)
The channel is going to be 60 feet wide (last week they said 45 feet) and will simply connect an inland basin to the existing shallow channel and therefore will only accommodate small boats (how big is "small"). The proposed 5 foot channel depth will simply not accommodate yachts or other large boats. A boat with even a 3 foot draft could be quite large.
The Project will consist of building hundreds of homes, hotels and stores right on Sarasota Bay. We didn't say that. What we did was quote what was requested by the developers which was:

• 1,086 single-family homes
• 1,687 low-rise multi-family homes
• 844 high-rise multi-family homes
• 300-room hotel
• 300-berth marina and canal
• Two 36,000-square-foot offices
• 60,000-square-foot shopping center
• 60,000-square-foot specialty retail
• 84,000-square-foot conference center

And, all this on less than 600 acres, much of which is in a “Coastal High Hazard Area”.  
The majority of the acreage in this project is inland. It is also important to note that there is a substantial difference between water view and water front. The portion of this project that is closest to the water will still be water view because they will cut the mangroves down to a height of 6 feet . This simply means, you can see the water from where you are at, not that you are actually on it. This method of building is what will allow us to preserve a small number of the mangroves and damage its ecosystem.
The Project will pollute the Bay. True.
The reality is that right now significant amounts of pollutants are entering the Bay and harming the sea grasses. As part of the master plan we will be creating retention basins that will intercept the existing runoff of pollutants from the surrounding agricultural sites. Most of the land will be covered by buildings, streets, parking lots, and other impermeable surfaces. Nitrogen from fertilized land, pesticides, and more form sediment and trigger algae blooms that kill sea grasses and other wildlife. The establishment of retention basins will provide a means of capturing agricultural runoff, preventing untreated pollutants from continuing to be discharged into the Bay. Yes, in the past this was farm land and chemical fertilizers were probably used. Much of that has already been leached out, but tests need to be done to see just how much if any remains and what remediation is required. Runoff will continue from lawns, vehicle-liquids, and other pollutants found in densely populated areas.
The Project will include 300-slip marina. That is what you requested.
The plans would include 80 boat slips in an inland basin and would not include any “marina style” amenities such as fuel, etc. Your map indicates boat slips along the canals too, so how many do you really plan, not just in the marina?
The site plan will be approved on August 6th, 2013. What site plan? We haven't seen one. Do you have one?
We are only asking for an amendment to the existing Comprehensive Plan (“Comp Plan”), which is almost 30 years old. The comprehensive plan is not something that should be changed on a whim especially to satisfy the demands of two individuals in the county. A change to the Comp Plan does not mean approval of the project; it only means that we would have permission to submit our plan to the County Commissioners. At that point, in a public forum, we would be able to request review of our site plan. You know as well as we do that a comp plan change would affect the entire county not just your project. We cannot and will not allow that.
The Project will change the Comp Plan for the entire County. True.
We only seek to amend the Comp Plan for items specific to the Long Bar Pointe Project and only if we can prove a positive impact on the environment. You know that isn't possible. Who do you think we are? Who told you that this would even be a possibility?
The developers don’t know about the environment and we don’t trust them. That seems to be true.
A team of expert, experienced, environmental scientists who are very familiar with our waters have been brought in to design the improvements we intend to make to the environment. Names please, so we can check their credentials. These are the same consultants the Manatee County Commissioners hired at the Port of Manatee to make sure that the dredging and replacing of sea grass that the port was required to do would not harm the environment. And they should know that the seagrass replacement was a dismal failure. These efforts won awards for their environmental preservation and mitigation. Really, what awards? From whom? They will do the same for Long Bar Pointe. That's what we are worried about. We have a REAL expert who will speak at the hearing, and he isn't even being paid unlike your "team of expert, experienced, environmental scientists".
The Project will destroy the mangroves by trimming them. Eventually they will die out.
Proper trimming of mangroves does not reduce the environmental function or values of the mangrove forest (Did you check with the Audubon Society about that?) , nor does it reduce the utilization of the mangrove system by fish or wildlife. The mangroves filter water and trap sediments at the root system. Trimming and pruning does not affect the mangroves ability to filter the water, trap sediments or provide critical fragments for the food chain. Proper mangrove trimming, and a healthy root system results in a healthy mangrove system. What do your experts say about the failure of mangroves to reproduce when they are trimmed? Also, we will be building most of the development behind the mangroves similar to the design at Long Boat Key. Have you considered other more environmentally friendly options?
The Project will build in the Coastal High Hazard (“CHH”) area.
Only a small section of the project, along the Bay, is in the CHH. Not according to FEMA maps. Most of that area will be filled or raised to facilitate the buildings in compliance with FEMA requirements. Conservative estimates indicate that will require 2.5 million cubic yards of fill and that is probably the primary reason you want to dredge the boat basins and canals. Accordingly, the land will effectively be removed from the CHH.
The Project will destroy the fishing and marine life in the area. At least some of it for sure.
A combination of the decrease in pollutants into the Bay, the revitalization of the mangroves by cutting out the nuisance species, the replanting of sea grass, and the restriction of propeller motors through the sea grass areas, will result in a healthier sea grass bed and healthier and more vibrant ecosystem. Probably not with the runoff from a 550 acre area that has a population of 10,000 people (+ or -).
The Project will not benefit the County or the community. Not any more than if it were built someplace where it would have less environmental impact.

There are massive benefits to the county and its communities. And here is a partial list…

  • Public access to areas that are currently inaccessible. Those areas are only inaccessible because you now deny access. By creating things like; low-impact environmental areas such as hiking and nature trails, educational boardwalks though the mangroves and wildlife viewing areas visitors can be educated about our coastal and marine habitats Manatee County residents can better experience the natural beauty of this area. Why don't you sell or donate (or both) the mangrove forest to the county. That would save you a lot of money because you wouldn't have to remove the nonindigenous plants, construct trails and boardwalks, and wouldn't have to maintain it. If you sold it, you could get some of your investment back and wouldn't have to depend so much on Bain Capital for financial support.
  • Public access shallow draft boat ramp. Kayak/canoing trails and public boat launch ramp would make Long Bar Pointe a place where paddlers can connect to Florida’s water trails, allowing boat access to the Manatee County Paddle Trail system. If this was county property, a controlled kayak launch area similar to that in Robinson Preserve could be developed.
  • Because this project will build up the land to a minimum 14 feet elevation, this will take the area out of the Coastal High Hazard definition. What this means is that, inland (not where the mangroves are), the land will be build up so that in the event of a major storm there is a reduced risk of flooding. This will make the shoreline stronger and healthier and further protect County residents from potential storm surge (current elevation 3 to 4 feet) What are you going to do when the storm surge rushes in through the channel and into your boat basins and canals? Maybe all those things will be down at sea level, 14' below ground level. How will that work. The water level in the canals and boat basins will be at sea level but the adjacent buildings will be 14 feet above sea level. In a BIG hole?
  • Increased tax revenue. Let’s face it, when do we not need increased tax revenues? Because new businesses will be moving to the area (requiring more infrastructure: roads, water lines, sewers, police, schools, etc.) , the tax base will increased and it is estimated that there will be tens of millions of dollars in additional revenue for essential services including fire, police and infrastructure.
  • Jobs, jobs, jobs. The building portion of this project will create hundreds of jobs immediately and thousands of temporary construction jobs over a 20 year buildout. These jobs will bring restoration to many families in the area whose livelihood is in the construction industry. Framers, painters, drywallers, roofers…and the list goes on and on. In addition, bringing upscale retail, office, and resort space to the area will provide approximately 1,000 new permanent full-time jobs in the area. Jobs will be created regardless of where you build. You don't need to destroy the environment in order to create jobs. And by not destroying the mangrove forest and by not damaging the seagrass, you insure that fishing jobs and wildlife tour jobs won't be lost.

Sorry this isn't fancy and glitzy, but we feel that content is more important.

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