Proposed development draws dozens of protesters to commission meeting

Posted at 5:49 PM, May 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-04 17:49:33-04

Dozens of people are waiting to speak in front of Manatee County Commissioners on Thursday afternoon.  The commission is debating the fate of Aqua by the Bay, a giant residential/retail site proposed to sit on Sarasota Bay.

"These are world class architects we are working with, they have worked on projects such as Celebration and Baldwin Park in Orlando," said a spokesperson for the developers.

But protesters fear not enough is being done to protect the wildlife near the proposed project. Andy Mele has been protesting the project for months.

"I'm very concerned about the mangroves," said Mele.

He said any development near the mangroves could have a harmful impact on them.

"There will be a Las Vegas style development behind the mangroves, isolating those mangroves in that way will be fatal to them," said Mele.

But developers said they have studied the economic impact of the site.

"There will be no impact to mangroves or sea grass, we will create the estuary enhancement area," said a spokesperson for the developers.

Manatee County Commissioners could vote on the project as soon as Thursday evening.