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FDEP to Issue Mitigation Bank Approval for Long Bar Pointe

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has issued a notice of intent to give Long Bar Pointe developers Carlos Beruff and Larry Lieberman their mitigation bank permit for the controversial property.

The initial application permit had been withdrawn because it was found to include parts of a neighboring property, which it turned out Beruff and Lieberman did not own. A wetland mitigation bank is a device that allows developers to use preservation, enhancement, restoration or creation of a wetland, stream, or habitat conservation area to offset or compensate for expected adverse impacts to similar nearby ecosystems.

Long Bar Pointe is a large coastal development by Beruff's Medallion Homes, located behind IMG Academy on the last major undeveloped parcel of Sarasota Bay in Manatee County. The permit would designate a majority of the development's 522-acre shoreline a bank, hence giving them credit to mitigate destroyed wetlands associated with the development of a sub-division called Aqua by the Bay.

A suit had previously been brought against the developers and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection by Suncoast Waterkeeper, the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage and TBT publisher and former Manatee County Commissioner Joe McClash, seeking to stop the permit. No administrative hearing was scheduled because the permit was withdrawn.

Beruff and Lieberman had previously failed in a lawsuit challenging portions of the Manatee County comp plan and whether parts related to dredging of canals, channels and marina basins and the construction of boat ramps and restrictions to protect our coastal wetlands, shorelines and submerged land were in violation of the Constitution. A judge ruled against the developers in January.

McClash and the environmental groups now have 21 days to challenge FDEP's decision. McClash indicated that they would likely do so next week.