Monday, January 23, 2017

County "contemplates" comp plan amendments

Sarasota County is "contemplating language" that could amend the terms of the 2050 Comprehensive Plan.

(Click on photo to enlarge)

At a Jan. 18 meeting, Sarasota Planner Vivian Roe presented two amendments proposed by developers for public input:

1. reducing the required open space (OS) for Villages from the current 50% to 33%.
2. reduction in size and or placement of Greenbelt buffers (currently required to be 500' in width).

What's driving the proposed changes?
  • Developers who apply for villages have been revising comp plan policy requesting to reduce the OS from 50% to something less (for specific sites).
  • If there is a change to the policy, each developer requesting a reduction of OS will not need to get a Comp Plan Amendment, just a rezoning, said Sarasota Planner Vivian Roe.

Those present had questions and comments:
-- If this is going to become part of the process, the notification should be expanded - the public needs to know - said one person.
-- To allow more of the open space to be housing - doesn’t this encourage more houses, or more single family format, with less walkability - said another.
-- Expediting development could mean faster tranformation of the remaining open land of the county to tracts of single family homes without character or 2050 value.

While the benefits to developers are clear:
-- simpler application
-- less costly
-- more land to put houses on

The potential downside to everyone else that could result:
-- Loss of village strengths (e.g., walkability)
-- Loss of 2050 priorities and values

Greenbelts could lose any depth or buffering, as happened with LT Ranch on Clark Road.

Several who attended brought up the question of the top-down nature of the county process. In this case, developers propose changes - the public is invited in a secondary move to REact, provide "input" -- followed by the County Commission deciding the issue. What if, at the time developers are PROposing, the County invited citizens to PROactively PROpose, as well? In some cases, as with the proposed recycling center within spitting distance of the Celery Fields, the very land in question is owned by the county - i.e., by us.

Should we not have some proactive procedural primacy?

Citizens with comments can email them directly to the presenting planner, Vivian Roe, at

A few slides from the PowerPoint presentation at Gulf Gate Library

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