Manatee County, Florida -- “This backups into my workshop,” says Gary Hebert, a homeowner in Braden Woods. The 33 acres of woods and wetlands is the reason Hebert says is part of the reason he moved to Braden Woods 18 years ago.
“We like the country atmosphere the woods and wildlife,” says Hebert.
But it’s all threatened to be replaced with 32 luxury homes. The developer is asking for rezoning.
“It’ll be four houses per acre some two-story homes, gated community, single entrance and exit point,” explains Hebert. The traffic he says will go through his neighborhood.
Homeowners are united against the subdivision project “Friends of Keep Woods” have created a video and set up a Facebook page.
“I think we’re trying to bring a voice to the wildlife,” adds Phil St. John, a homeowner.
Hebert says the property is home to bobcats and deer, gopher tortoises, eagles and other animals.
“It’s become a refuge for the wildlife that’s left other places that have been developed. Less and less habitat for animals to go to have congregated in this area once this is gone don’t know where they’ll go,” says Hebert.
Homeowners may have reason to celebrate. On Thursday, county staff will recommend to the Planning Commission to deny the developer the rezoning but not because of concerns over the environment or wildlife.
But over the developer’s plan to end the subdivision in a cul-de-sac instead of a dead-end that can later be connected to another main road.
“They’d like to see Clubhouse Drive connect to Linger Lodge Road for greater connectivity in Manatee County so to alleviate the traffic and overcrowding in other surrounding roads,” says Nick Azzara, spokesperson for Manatee County.
Hebert says, “I’m not antidevelopment. I just want it to be done in a way that is sensible preserve some of the natural habitat … the reason people come to Florida.”
The homeowners have started two petitions. One petition asks the county commissioners to deny the project. The other petition asks the county to buy the property and turn it into a nature preserve. Azzara says the county says it doesn't have the money. The homeowners are exploring other ways to buy and protect the land.