Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hearing continued due to ownership opacity issues

The Sarasota County Commission's March 1 public hearing on a proposal to industrialize public lands near the Celery Fields in order to accommodate a low-wage, big-box wholesaler was continued until April 26 after Charlie Bailey, the attorney for the applicant, acknowledged that he could not name all the owners of his client, JDMH Real Estate of Sarasota LLC, which he said is the development arm of Restaurant Depot in Florida.

He had offered a list with some individuals, which also included the government of Abu Dhabi and trusts, including one or more involving families apparently based in South Africa.

The Sarasota County Charter states:
All persons or entities applying for rezoning, special exceptions, or variances shall disclose the true ownership interests in any property sought to be rezoned and shall further disclose the true parties in interest in any corporation, trust, partnership, limited partnership, or any entity of any type in their zoning application. 

Asst. County Attorney Roddy stated that in his finding the applicant has not yet met the Charter's standard. After considerable hemming, the Board voted 5-0 to suspend the hearing until April 26. Bailey said he would meet with Roddy to attempt to satisfy the Charter's requirements.

The room filled with over 200 people who came to oppose the re-zoning to industrial of the public lands. The proposed project would blight the area, bring trucks that would burden traffic on an already failed road, and destroy the potential connectivity of major assets in the area.

Nothing regarding the actual plan and its impacts was said, except for one man who told the commission that some time ago, an elected official had pledged to make the area around the Celery Fields into a great park. Forty-six persons had signed speakers' cards to speak on issues ranging from impacts on the environment to traffic, nuisance, and planning illogic.

Standing Room Only at the BCC

Charlie Bailey with list of owners at the BCC

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