Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Neighborhood opposes Benderson at Stickney Point - Update

A neighborhood workshop on Monday asked area residents for their wish lists of feasibility studies for a planned development at the key intersection of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road.

But most of them just wish the project wouldn't move forward at all.

Siesta Promenade, a hotly contested mixed-use development, was back in the public eye Monday for the first time since early October, when Sarasota County tabled the discussion to set a Critical Area Plan boundary. The public workshop was designed so the Manatee County-based Benderson Development Co. and Sarasota County could collect public input about what would be included in the scope of work for the project that's expected to break ground sometime next year.


Photo from Herald Tribune

A citizen's response to the Siesta Promenade traffic issue, sent to the HT reporter:

I went to two of the Benderson meetings and signed the sheet for continued updates and received nothing.  Therefore, I missed this last meeting.  Not happy! 
Benderson has a history of morphing situations into what ever they want.  Look at the original proposals for the town center.  It was supposed to be a smart growth development. Here we go again with Siesta Promenade. Traffic studies are antiquated and the community and visitors are left with ever increasing safety issues. I attempted to get the latest comprehensive plan update to recognize this and put effort in developing a more relevant/ safety conscious traffic study connected directly with the building approval process. People have listened but the many stakeholders have no impetus to take the necessary steps. I've explored many avenues. 
I have come to the conclusion that a state comprehensive plan amendment will force the need. 
Data presently isn't designed for the need.  I've tried for months to get at the requirements for evacuation routes and who is in charge and monitors these .  Yes, there seems to be some requirements and Siesta Promenade, Fruitville, Bee Ridge and others all are designated evacuation routes. 
There are silos of interests here that are not combining efforts to put safety first.
Maybe this is some fuel for future articles. 
Vicki Nighswander MAT, MPH

Monday, December 19, 2016

Updates: Go Solar -- Learn How on January 4 at Florida House


1. The co-op will need 40 participating households to start in earnest, and information sessions will be held over the next couple months to inform interested residents. Events scheduled so far include 
  • January 18 at 1 pm at the Venice Community Center
  • January 19 at 5 pm at Selby Library 
  • February 24 at 11 am at Twin Lakes Park.


The Florida House Institute, in coordination with the Sarasota League of Women Voters, Gulf Coast Community Foundation and other local partners, is working with the Florida Solar United Neighborhoods (http://www.flsun.org/sarasota/) to engage Sarasota County homeowners to create a solar cooperative. 

Interested homeowners across many Sarasota neighborhoods would form a cooperative using the expertise of the FLSUN sponsors to develop construction standards and engage qualified contractor(s) for the installation of solar panels. 

The cooperative would use the buying power of scale to get a discounted price for solar panels for participants.

Go Solar

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Mele on mining, development, and environmental peril

Andy Mele, vice-chairman of the Sierra Club, Sarasota Manatee Group, and Suncoast Waterkeeper, offers some honest words about the phosphate industry, about freewheeling Sarasota developers, and the dire impacts on the environment now, with worse in the years to come.

Mele was interviewed on WSLR on Wednesday, December 7, 2016.

Excerpt on development and Comp Plan machinations in Sarasota County (6 mins)

Full Interview: Phosphate Mining in Manatee - Mosaic hearing Jan. 26, 2017 - Democrats' failure - current developer activity in Sarasota and Manatee counties - Pat Neal, Carlos Beruff, Benderson - future "feeding frenzy" east of I-75. (26 mins)

Audio interview thanks to:
WSLR Peace and Justice Report 9am on Wednesday
wslr.org 96.5 LPFM

Photo credit: Sarasota Observer

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Late Waldo Proffitt Jr. on Growth

Longtime editorial writer and managing editor of the Herald TribuneWaldo Proffitt Jr. died Dec. 6. This reflection was shared with us by Dan Lobeck:

Waldo Proffitt Jr.

October 8, 1924 - December 6, 2016

As Managing Editor of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune from 1961-1998, and as a columnist and editorial writer,
Waldo Proffitt  helped shape Sarasota County for the better (together for most of that time with Publisher David Lindsay).  

He always favored carefully managed and controlled growth, as reflected in these interview excerpts.
Waldo Proffitt is greatly missed.

From an Interview – 10/16/2013:
 … growth is not necessarily good, it’s only the right kind of growth that will help the community remain a good place for people to live and that is the product that Sarasota has to sell: that this is a good place to live. And I believe that that idea has become fairly widely circulated, I certainly hope so.


Well, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by density. I mean that’s not easy to do, because the more people you can pack into a given area, the more money you can make.


I’m very fond of Siesta Key but the fact is that now it is getting overpopulated and unless we are very careful about what we allow to be built in there, it can have an negative impact on the quality of life, and that is, I think, a statement that I think could be applied to almost any waterfront community— they are very sensitive to density.

From an Interview – 8/27/2003:


I always tried to sell the concept that growth is good up to a point … I can tell you what the maximum population [of Sarasota County] will be. I figured it out to be 1.6 billion. The population of Sarasota County would give you twelve square feet for every person to lie down in the sun, and you couldn’t have any double decking because everybody wants to get the sunshine. … then you can start asking the question, how much growth should we have? Then you start asking a whole different set of questions, and then you’ve come to the concept of sustainability. How much growth can we sustain over the long haul based on the resources available? The truth is we don’t know, and people have thought about this and they still don’t know. We will never get a satisfactory answer to that question, but as long as you keep asking the question, you get people in a mind-set where they are not afraid to say, no, you can’t do that because that is something we can’t sustain over the long haul. We can’t follow this precedent.

Question: In very specific cases, if we look at Southwest Florida, already there are issues of water, pollution, and traffic. Once that starts impacting the life of an average citizen of this community, they are going to start complaining.

WP: Yes, and [they] have.

Question: But the power of the developers is that they will say, look, we want to expand, that’s jobs, more people come, more businesses, it helps the economy, more taxes, better schools, that growth is not only essential but beneficial. How do you counteract those kinds of statements?

WP: In the first place, you go back and examine the tax history in the county, which I don’t think anybody has done recently but I did several times and printed the results. The truth of the matter is that as the community grows, the per capita tax rises. Growth doesn’t lower your taxes; it actually raises them. I think in most any situation, you can check the tax records and that is what happens.