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Wetland regulations set for review by Manatee County

Commissioners say it's premature to believe they will lessen wetland buffers to align with state regulations.

Suncoast Waterkeeper has collected nearly 1,000 signatures on a petition urging the Board of County Commissioners to keep Manatee County’s Comprehensive Plan as is when it comes to protecting local wetlands.

Commissioners George Kruse and Vanessa Baugh thought the move to align Manatee County's wetland protections with state regulations — in other words allowing construction closer to wetlands — could be premature. Kruse said he doesn’t like cutting environmental protections, and while Baugh won’t be voting due to her resignation taking effect July 30, she doesn't believe any of the commissioners had enough information yet to consider such cuts.

“At this point, the board probably isn’t very familiar with what the state regulations are and how they look in comparison to ours,” Baugh said. “I think we need to hold down all the rhetoric a little bit and let the board take a look and see what’s there.”

The issue was addressed at a planning task force meeting on July 20 when consultant Daniel B. DeLisi of DeLisi, Inc. delivered his findings that language in the county wetland regulations could be changed to duplicate the state’s requirements.