Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What's driving whose Vision?

David Brain teaches at New College and was a facilitator at several meetings of the Fruitville Initiative - a seemingly progressive effort by Sarasota County planners to work with the local residents and landowners to come up with a mutually beneficial and workable plan for key land parcels near a key exchange - the gateway exchange - for Sarasota County on Interstate 75 at Fruitville Road.

Here is part of his letter to the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners regarding the current plan to permit a giant truck distribution center within the Fruitville quadrant:
 "I have reviewed the site plan and proposal to “amend” the PED Code, Master Development Plan and Interconnectivity Plan, as represented in the documents submitted to the County. It is clear to me that this is not really an amendment but a significant abandonment of the principles and purpose of the Fruitville Initiative. If the BCC were to approve this petition, it would be a profound and tragic betrayal of trust. It would be a betrayal of the private property owners who have stuck it out through this long process, at substantial cost and through long delays. It would be a violation of the promises made and expectations raised by the County in its engagement with the neighbors and other stakeholders who contributed their time to the forging of an important agreement—an agreement that became part of the Comprehensive Plan. Over the course of several years, I had the privilege of working with and getting to know the property owners, the neighborhood activists, and the cadre of engaged citizens who worked so hard to shape the Fruitville Initiative. It took literally years to build the foundation of trust that enabled the formation of SPA3 and the development of the critical area plan. In my opinion, approval of this petition would be a disastrous betrayal of that trust."

The Fruitville Vision

A similar view from Jon Susce, who has covered the County's dealings with Benderson Development Inc. in great detail:

In 2009, a public planning process began, which involved landowners, Sarasota County government, and the neighborhoods adjacent to the 420 acres. Subsequent workshops represented hundreds of hours of citizen involvement in the future of their community and yielded a coordinated development strategy in a the form of a public-private partnership named the Fruitville Initiative, with expenditures for consultants related to creating the Fruitville Initiative totaling $864,691.

For the past five years, neighborhood activists surrounding the area have been actively involved in a sincere attempt to plan and orchestrate the development of this key entryway into Sarasota. The collaboration was intended to produce a beautiful, walkable residential and commercial mixed-use development plan that harmonizes with the Celery Fields bird sanctuary.

Unfortunately, all of this has changed as Randy Benderson is expanding his sprawl from the University Parkway/I-75 Corridor to the Fruitville/I-75 Corridor by proposing to build a commercial distribution center featuring multiple loading docks built to serve a constant flow of tractor trailers, which is similar to the one Benderson has built in an Industrial Park in Oneco.

TODAY Benderson is bringing before The Sarasota County Commission a plan which will finalize his intention to place a glorified truck stop, similar to the one he recently placed in Oneco, to the property adjacent to the pristine Celery Fields.

Benderson Truck Depot Plan

The Benderson Vision?
More background here and here (click or just scroll down). The Sarasota Board of County Commissioners meets today to consider approving this transformation:


  1. This wood not only destroy the essential wildlife environment of the area, and the tranquility of the neighborhoods in the surrounding area. It would also make using our beautiful library practically impossible. I cannot comprehend what Sarasota County has in mind, here. Certainly not the good of the people east of Rte. 75.