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Rezone approval clears way for development by Lake Manatee State Park

Some residents oppose the commissioners' rezone of the East County land.

Having spent his life amid the greenery and wildlife of East County, Chris Mcguinness sees a piece of his world disappearing with each new apartment complex or house that emerges.

“It's just sad because there's nowhere to go after this,” he said.

Mcguinness said lakes where he used to fish as a child are now considered off-limits and that "wildlife preserve" signs he used to see down the road from his Dam Road home have vanished.

“If you say this is a wildlife preserve area, and then you build a thousand homes, that’s kind of contradictory,” he said.

The southern half of Dam Road runs alongside Lake Manatee State Park, which is separated from the road by a barbed wire fence.

And although Mcguinness hoped Manatee County commissioners would protect that area, he wasn't surprised March 3 that they voted 6-1 to approve a new rezone request for approximately 310 acres from General Agriculture to Planned Development Residential. That clears the way for a Neal Communities development of 706 residential units and 17,750 square feet of medical facilities.