Sunday, November 6, 2016

Impact Fees, Large Development, Celebration for Wade Matthews

from Dan Lobeck

Important Meetings of the Week

Tuesday, November 8, 1:30 pm, Anderson Center, 400 S. Tamiami Trail, Venice
Sarasota County Commission
Public Hearing on Increasing or Delaying Various Impact Fees

The County Commission will act on a consultant’s recommendation to finally update and increase – after 10 years – impact fees on new development to help pay for expansions of various facilities to serve that development.  The fees are for parks, libraries, fire, emergency medical services, law enforcement, justice (courts and jails) and general government.  They do not include impact fees for schools and transportation, which remain seriously lowballed.

The consultant has recommended that the miscellaneous impact fees rise for an average single family home less than 38%, from $4,397 to $6,061.

The County Commission has delayed this adjustment repeatedly over the past year but is finally poised to vote. 

The biggest problem is that although staff has for many months recommended full funding without delay, they are now proposing that the adjusted fees be phased in over three years (80% effective April 1, 2017, 90% April 1, 2018 and 100% April 1, 2019), based on push-back from some County Commissioners. 

This comes at a time when the County Commission plans to borrow tens of millions of dollars, to be funded with probable tax hikes over time, for expansion of government facilities for which there is insufficient money due to the impact fees being too low for too long.  The borrowing will be divided by projects to fall below the bonding cap beyond which the County Charter requires a voter referendum, which the County Commission previously planned but abandoned.

A further delay will cost the taxpayers substantial needed funds, just to serve the developers who control County government.

Wednesday, November 9, 1:30 pm, County Administration Building, 1660 Ringling Boulevard, Sarasota

Development East of I-75: LT Ranch
Sarasota County Commission
Public Hearing on LT Ranch/ Clark Road Properties Village Development

This huge Sarasota 2050 “Village” would be east of I-75 south of Clark Road where it meets the Bee Ridge Extension – 3,450 dwellings and 300,000 square feet of nonresidential development (mainly a large shopping center on Clark Road) on 1,725 acres.  Severe traffic problems would be created on Clark Road from Proctor Road to the Bee Ridge Extension and on Proctor Road from Cattlemen Road to Clark Road, requiring the widening of those roads from four to two lanes.  The development would however only contribute a share of that expense, leaving the rest on the taxpayers. It also is not clear who would pay for a southern extension of the Bee Ridge Extension to serve the development.  Also, the Greenbelt setback along Clark Road would be reduced from 500 to 10 feet (a matter within the discretion of the County Commission), destroying the rural ambiance which that setback is intended to serve. 

The development would destroy much natural habitat, including 20 acres of mesic hammock, 86 acres of mixed wetland hardwoods (100% of the ones on the property), 30 acres of freshwater marsh,11 acres (again 100%) of streams and waterways, and apparently an eagle’s nest on the commercial site.  This is in addition to the fact that the County Commission previously excused this development from getting its densities by buying and transferring them from off-site Greenways, just giving them to the site instead when the developer complained that the Greenway requirement was “too expensive.”

The requirement that Sarasota 2050 Villages be walkable New Urbanist communities would be destroyed and replaced with a standard subdivision and shopping center by 15 “modifications”, including by allowing gated communities, changing public civic uses to private clubhouses, allowing longer cul-sacs and dead-end streets and changing requirements for setbacks, block configurations, intersections, roadway designs, alleys, street trees, multiuse trails and sidewalks and the public greens, square and plaza for the commercial center.

The fiscal neutrality analysis employs tricks to conclude that the development will pay its own way by the usual taxes and impact fees, such as by assuming no special costs for law enforcement and emergency rescue to reach this eastern sprawl, and assuming no need to contribute to capital repairs and renovations of existing schools despite the fact no new middle or high school is planned for the development, from which 598 new public school students are expected.  Also as to schools, impact fees are deemed fully adequate for the development’s share of the seven new elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools which the School District projects will be needed by the time this development is built out, even though the School Board and County Commission have only set school impact fees at 26% of what the consultant says is needed for that purpose.

Thursday, November 102016, 7 pm
Michael's on East Wine Cellar, Midtown Plaza,1283 Tamiami Trail South, Sarasota 

Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations 55th Anniversary Party,
A fundraiser benefiting CONA’s college scholarship fund, honoring Wade Matthews, retiring Sarasota Audubon Society conservation chair -- hors d'oeuvres, music, c ash bar, special door prizes.  Ticket donation: $50/ person.  RSVP to CONA Here.

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