The history of Sarasota County is marked by efforts to preserve the County's important natural and cultural places, and to provide parklands and recreational opportunities.
It will remain the goal of Sarasota County to conserve, maintain, and where necessary, restore the natural and cultural environment of Sarasota County.
Sarasota County seeks to optimize the opportunities to more efficiently acquire parklands and other open space for an increasing population.
During the Comprehensive Plan evaluation and appraisal process various members of the community came forward to seek protection of quality open space within urbanized areas. The Board of County Commissioners directed staff to pursue opportunities for an urban green space initiative.
A stated goal in Apoxsee: The Revised and Updated Comprehensive Plan, includes providing and protecting a high-quality, environmentally sensitive, accessible, economically efficient system of parks and open space that serves all Sarasota County residents and visitors.
Objective 1.1 of the Recreation and Open Space chapter is to acquire, develop, maintain, and protect parks and recreation facilities consistent with the needs of Sarasota County's population and Objective 1.3 seeks to improve public access to those sites. Further, Policy 1.1.6 states that the County shall continue to expand beach and waterfront acquisition efforts.
Sarasota County has recognized that parklands and recreational opportunities are an integral part of promoting a high quality of life, and has developed a Parks and Recreation Master Plan with the stated mission of planning and funding exceptional parks, which showcase Sarasota County's natural environment and cultural heritage with world class facilities, diverse programs, and accessibility for all, in order to meet the needs of residents and visitors, young and old, while growing with Sarasota County's communities.
The Parks and Recreation Master Plan's recommendations include that Sarasota County should aggressively pursue parkland acquisition to meet existing and long term demands, and strive to increase access to coastal/beach and inland water resources for appropriate recreational opportunities, and increase bicycle and pedestrian access to parks.
Florida's Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, Outdoor Recreation in Florida 2000 (Florida Department of Environmental Protection) recognizes that the most essential element of an outdoor recreation program is land upon which to recreate, and that the acquisition of an adequate land base to meet future needs should be a priority.
Pursuant to Resolution No. 2005-155, adopted on July 5, 2005, the Board of County Commissioners established Neighborhood Parkland guidelines and directed staff to develop criteria to identify and rank Neighborhood Parkland.
It is in the best interests of the community that a protocol be established for acquiring Neighborhood Parkland with the intent to balance the private property and development rights of citizens within Sarasota County.
This article is not intended to create additional regulatory encumbrances upon property; and landowners who choose not to participate in this program will remain free to develop or otherwise use their property in accordance with existing regulatory criteria.
It is in the best interests of the citizens of Sarasota County that all properties protected pursuant to this article meet the criteria established herein.
In those cases where it is necessary for the Board to acquire portions of properties which do not meet the criteria set forth herein in order to acquire portions of the same property which do meet these criteria, it is necessary for the Board to retain the flexibility to use for some other public purpose those portions of properties which do not meet the criteria herein, or to declare such lands surplus and offer them for sale.
Pursuant to Ordinance No. 2005-049, the Board called for a referendum to be held on November 8, 2005, to determine if an ad valorem tax of no more than 0.25 mill should continue to be levied for an additional ten-year period to December 31, 2029, to finance the acquisition, protection and management of environmentally sensitive lands and Neighborhood Parkland and to authorize the issuance of general obligation bonds, not exceeding $250,000,000.00, payable from the ad valorem tax.
Contingent upon passage of the referendum, it is in the best interest of the citizens of Sarasota County that a committee be established to serve as an advisory committee to the Board on issues involving the acquisition, management, and appropriate public use of Neighborhood Parkland.
(Ord. No. 2005-062, § 2, 10-25-2005)
How will those noble goals be advanced by approving this: