It was standing room only this week in the Manatee County, Florida Planning Commission as at least 500 angry residents jammed the hearing room to oppose a 200,000 s.f. Wal-Mart supercenter plan. Neighbors from University Park rented two busloads to take residents to the hearing. The Planning Commission has taken in seven hours of testimony, and voted to delay any decision until January 8th. An incomplete noise study was given as the official reason for the voting delay. One Commission did not want to delay the decision, and indicated he would vote for denial. “I think the county infrastructure isn’t in place to deal with this development,” the Commissioner told the Sarasota Herald Tribune. “I just don’t think that this particular project is right for this site.” The developer, Benderson Development, admitted that they had not submitted the noise study because they were afraid that residents against the project would do their own noise study. “I know exactly what’s going to happen when we submit one,” said Ed Vogler, representing Benderson. “You’re going to get two or three others.” Benderson offered no written noise plan, instead complaining that they should not have to do such a study because a recent Wal-Mart proposal nearby did not have to do a noise study. “I suppose the difference here is that these folks [opponents] spent $83,000 to come here,” Vogler said, referring to the work of a citizen’s group called Safe and Economically Viable Neighborhood, Inc., which has raised money to pay for their own traffic study. Residents say the store will lower residential property values, cause severe traffic congestion and noise problems, and have a negative environmental impact. Another Planning Commissioner said the 34 acre site was too small for the project. “I just have the impression what we’re trying to do here is put a quart in a pint-sized pot,” he told the Herald Tribune. Whatever the Planning Commission votes, the final decision rests with the Manatee County Commissioners, who take the matter up January 22nd. Opponents told the media they plan to bring ten busloads of neighbors to the County Commissioner’s hearing.
Benderson Development has stirred up controversy in a number of New York state and Florida communities. For more stories about this developer, search this database by “Benderson”.