Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Is this rational planning?

Earlier this year, a large, heavy-industrial waste processing plant was proposed for public land at a fragile intersection in an East Sarasota district including a sensitive nature preserve, nearly 1,600 homes, an elementary school, a busy commercial area and several industrial parks.

The justification given for the proposal was that 25 years earlier, the public property was designated as a major employment center.

Sarasota County processed the proposal with no outreach to the surrounding community - the thousands of residents, stores, businesses and school which weren't there a quarter of a century ago.

The public land where the waste plant was proposed was placed on the surplus lands list by County Administrator Thomas Harmer with no public consultation or advisory.

In processing the application, the County acknowledged none of the immediate, mid-term, or long-term consequences of placing a 16-acre waste plant at the heart of this upcoming district.

On Aug. 23, 2017, Commissioners Al Maio and Michael Moran voted to approve the rezoning and special exception for the waste plant. Commissioners Charles Hines, Nancy Detert, and Paul Caragiulo voted it down.

"To plan" means, "to decide on or to arrange in advance." Proposing to site an industrial waste facility in an environmentally sensitive area with tourist amenities because 25 years earlier it was designated as a possible site for light industry is not a plan. It's a calamitous anachronism.

How do we get from here to more commonsense, rational planning?

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