Manatee County is considering cutting local wetland protections. 

The change would reduce the required buffer zone between wetlands and development. 

Executive Director for the Suncoast Waterkeeper, Dr. Abbey Tyrna, attended a hearing before the county planning commission Thursday morning.

“What we’re talking about now is reducing our 50 foot buffer around preserves to 25, that’s a half," said Tyrna. "To say there’s going to be no repercussions is quite silly.”

She says buffers don’t just protect nature and wildlife, but also people’s quality of life.

“When we think about Lake Manatee and the future of our drinking water, we need to think about protecting more land in the watershed, not giving up land for more development.”

The consultant, Daniel DeLisi, says the county’s wetland regulations are duplicative, explaining changes that would defer local regulations to the state’s minimum requirements. 

“Amending policy 3.3.1 does not leave wetlands unprotected, it does not allow for the development of wetlands," said DeLisi. "It simply removes an extra layer that is already being accomplished with a different agency."

But Tyrna says it’s a matter of additional protection.

“Manatee County can go above and beyond what the state requires, can’t do less," said Tyrna. "So there is no duplication here.”

In a 4 to 2 vote, the planning commission chose not to recommend the changes to the comprehensive plan to the board of county commissioners.  

On August 17th they’re taking up the issue at 9 a.m. in the Manatee County Administration Building. It will be open to the public.