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In August 2013, the Board of Manatee County Commissioners (BOCC) in Bradenton, Florida, voted to change the map of an undeveloped piece of coastline, Long Bar Pointe, on Sarasota Bay from residential to mixed-use. Prior to the vote, a local opposition movement of over 6,000 people petitioned against the change.
This mass movement understood the environmental, economic, and social risks of putting a 300-berth marina, convention center, sea-walled boardwalk, and high-rise hotel directly on Sarasota Bay. The dredging and filling would kill a salt-water wetland, mangrove forest, two-mile stretch of sea-grass, and fish nursery that services West Florida’s commercial fishing and tourism economies. The opposition understood that other undeveloped areas in other bays in the same county could be next. This mass movement came from all walks of life: Republican, Democrat, independent, working class, professional class, young, middle-aged, and old. The last thing it could be characterized as was “tree-hugging, commie liberals,” although a small, weak counter-opposition tried to paint them as such. On September 9, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) rendered its opinion about the map change. As a result, the BOCC will be forced to reconsider. As the TBRPC states, Long Bar Pointe already is a “natural resource of regional significance” and a “cultural, natural, and economic amenity.” It won’t be if the BOCC does not reverse its decision.
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