MANATEE COUNTY (WFLA) — Manatee County and the City of Holmes Beach have been at odds over beach parking for years now.

The issue made its way up to Tallahassee this session in the form of House Bill 947, which was ultimately approved by Gov. Ron DeSantis in June. The bill paves the way for the county to build the parking garage in Holmes Beach.

On Monday morning, commissioners got their first look at the possible plans for the project during a workshop meeting. Very early plans indicate a three-floor garage with around 900 parking spaces, terrace seating, and the possibility of a public-private partnership. Staff indicated the cost would range from $30 million to $35 million and construction would take about 18 to 24 months.

Island officials, residents, and business owners showed up to speak in opposition of the plans.

“I think we all know change is inevitable. This is the wrong one. This is not the right solution for this island, and it will change the very dynamic, the very brand value of the island,” said Christopher Sutton.

Mayor Judy Titsworth said residents are still frustrated with the local issue going to the state.

“I wasn’t as surprised that it got past the Tallahassee level because it is not affecting them, it is affecting us,” said Mayor Titsworth. “People are really upset about this parking garage and I think they are equally upset that it is an attack on home rule.”

Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge— who has been a proponent of increasing public access to the beach after the city slashed a number of street parking spaces back in 2020—tells 8 On Your Side the city “lacked the spirit of negotiation.”

“There has not been any kind of cohesion and trying to work with us and the state to try to grant people access to the beach,” said Commissioner Van Ostenbridge. “Ultimately, we really feel we have no other solution then to build this garage to ensure that people can access the beach.”

Commissioners directed staff to move forward with design and development plans. That’s expected to come back before the board at a later date.