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Water-Related News

City lets Neal break ground on disputed project despite lack of compliance

In the continuing saga of developer Pat Neal's drive to destroy high-quality mangroves on Perico Island in order to develop a four-mansion family compound, contractors for Neal Communities broke ground on Monday, despite the fact that the matter seems far from settled as to whether the four 10,000 square-foot houses can be built as proposed. Nonetheless, the City of Bradenton approved the commencement of work.

Neal, the most prolific developer in the county, is being sued by former Manatee County Commissioner and TBT publisher Joe McClash and a consortium of environmental groups that joined his challenge of the proposed development.

The developer scored his first break when the city officials used an administrative loophole to change the land use map governing the property, thereby avoiding a public hearing process. However, the Army Corps of Engineers then said it didn't like the project as proposed, joining the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in recommending that a permit to fill wetlands at the development site be denied.