Monday, February 26, 2018

FPL to select route by mid-year

In January, FPL shared three possible routes for new power lines to the east of I-75 in Sarasota County.

In response to a follow-up inquiry, a spokesman said the company held a follow up "community advisory meeting" on Feb. 6 and that the goal is "to select a preferred route by mid-year."

The spokesman also shared a fact sheet and suggested that further public comment be sent to Rae Dowling:, 941-704-9072.

FPL Fact Sheet

The three routes include: one along Clark Road to the Hi Hat Ranch; one along Bee Ridge Road, and a third along Palmer Blvd near the Celery Fields, then north on Apex to Fruitville Road. More details here.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Reminder: Proposals for the Fresh Start Initiative are due March 1

This is a Reminder that proposals for the Fresh Start Initiative are due March 1. We have heard from a number of people who have shared great ideas, and we look forward to having a selection of thoughtful proposals.

Please make sure your proposal includes the following:

Contact Info: Name, Phone, Email

Description: This is key. Please include as much of the following as you can:

Public parcels 1, 2, and 3

Parcel: Which parcel are you considering: #1 or #2?
Facilities: Will your facility provide parking? Restrooms?
Dimensions: Details of size of structures, or of space devoted to uses.
Disposition of land: Sale, lease, or county control?

Use: What is the primary purpose you envision? More than one purpose?

Users: Who are the primary users you anticipate will make use of it? Have you been in touch with any prospective user groups? How are you sure of demand?

Revenue: Will the County receive any revenue - whether through sale, lease, fees, activity charges, tourist tax, property tax, employment, etc.

Traffic: What sort of traffic - cars? bicycles? big trucks? Primary times of day?

Goals: Will the use meet the needs of nearby residents? The general public? Tourists?

Compatibility: How would your proposal work within the existing uses of the Celery Fields Area? What kinds of uses would you like to see on the other public parcels at Apex and Palmer?

Economics: Will the proposed use pay for itself? If not, how will it be supported?

Legacy: In addition to needs and values, are there other aspects of the character and legacy of Sarasota that your proposal would enhance?

VISUALS: Diagrams, photos, hand-drawn images, video - best if in digital form, as we will use a projector for our workshops.

What is the Fresh Start Initiative?

Fresh Start is a grassroots citizens' experiment that seeks good ideas for our public lands -- ideas that have been endorsed by the community because they will add value to the Celery Fields area.

The initiative gained traction after the entire community witnessed a concerted effort to change land use and zoning rules to allow heavy industrial activity (a 16-acre open air demolition waste processing  and transfer facility) on public lands near a priceless bird sanctuary, recreation area and eco-tourism destination. Full Timeline here.

Fresh Start is about finding sensible, community-based proposals for these parcels near the Celery Fields. But the issues that make this necessary go beyond these specific public lands. The entire public planning process needs a makeover, including:

Notification: How often do we learn too late that a developer has received approval for a plan that neighbors didn't hear about?

Consultation: The county requires public workshops, but these partly depend on poor notification policies. Also, a developer can say anything at these meetings. The community can express its approval or disapproval, but the actual notes on the workshop are provided by the developer.

Integration: The County's 2050 Plan calls for coordinated comprehensive planning. If this were practiced even a little, a developer's plan for a waste processing facility could not have gotten to first base.

How can we do this better? For each of these steps of the planning process, it's time to ask: What changes to or innovations in practice and procedure would benefit both the people of Sarasota and the County? 

Vision: Sarasota land use has long been decided on a battleground where the interests of ambitious developers, county residents, and a slow-moving government bureaucracy have struggled against each other, rather than seeking a shared vision of our community worthy of a larger shared vision. A shared vision of answerable growth -- that is, growth that can responsibly articulate its logic, need, relationship to the larger organic whole in which it plays its part.

        External factors -- boom/bust market dynamics and the bi-polar winds of political change -- have not made the effort to reach a comprehensive vision any easier, and the Fresh Start Initiative does not pretend to have an easy solution. 

Is this a teachable moment for Sarasota?

        This effort to bring the county and the community into a fruitful dialog on some 24 acres of public land is a practical example of the problems the County faces on a grand scale. The hope is we can learn something from this single example that might constructively be applied to processes and procedures for future land use issues.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Two studies of Sarasota County Planning

Recently two independent studies of the history of efforts to deal with the market forces and impacts of growth in Sarasota County, FL have been published. They are below, along with a review of the first article, "Political Ecology."

These studieds bring out the complexity and challenges of community efforts to reach a shared vision of our future amid the tumult of powerful market forces - booms and busts - and equally powerful influence stemming from shifting political ideologies.

      Author: Evangeline R. Linkous, Ph.D., Asst. Professor Urban and Regional Planning, USF School of Public Affairs.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

National Audubon President Speaking in Sarasota March 12

February 15, 2018
National Audubon President 
David Yarnold 
to Speak 
at March Meeting 

“Sea Level Rise, Climate Change and Audubon’s Opportunity 
for Bipartisan Leadership in Florida and Beyond”

Monday, March 12, 6:30-9pm. 
First Congregational Church Fellowship Hall
About David Yarnold: David Yarnold was the recipient of many journalism awards before becoming National Audubon president in 2010. Under his leadership, Audubon's distributed network is becoming a coordinated, collaborative force for hemispheric conservation. David's talk will include comments on the importance of green spaces like the Celery Fields in climate change. Find out more about David on Wikipedia and the National Audubon website. 
Three Things to Know
Did you know that 2018 is the Year of the Bird? 
National Geographic and National Audubon have formed an alliance to promote the importance of the bird in our ecosystem. You can find out more on the Year of the Bird website. 
Wild About Art, our SAS members art exhibition, will be on display through February at the Nature Center, 9-1, DAILY.
Many are available for purchase. 
Image credit: 
Artist: Diane Wallace
Bird Naturalists are on the boardwalks daily (8:30am – 10:30am) with binoculars and telescope. Come and learn more about birds and wildlife at the Celery Fields, boasting more than 440 acres of natural Florida habitat...
Sarasota Audubon Society
Sarasota Audubon Nature Center 999 Center Road l (941) 312-6533
Open Daily: 9am-1pm, Oct.-Jun
Facebook   Twitter

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Private Comp Plan Amendment to add IBIS Rd. to Thoroughfare Plan

Comprehensive Plan Amendment No. 2017-F
Adding Ibis Street to Future Thoroughfare Plan

Date:        February 27, 2018
Location: Sarasota County Administration Center, County Commission Chamber, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, Florida
Time:       1:30 p.m., or soon thereafter
The Sarasota County Commission will hold a public hearing to consider a resolution transmitting Comprehensive Plan Amendment No. 2017-F, relating to the incorporation of Ibis Street into Sarasota County's Future Thoroughfare Plan Maps and Tables, to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity for review and comment.

The privately-initiated amendment proposes to add Ibis Street from Clark Road (State Road 72) to Future North-South Roadway "A" to Sarasota County's Future Thoroughfare Plan, as shown on the map below: 

The amendment proposes to revise the Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan including Maps 10-8 and 10-9 of the Year 2040 Future Thoroughfare Plan of the Future Land Use Chapter and Map 10-3a, Map 10-3b and Table 10-5 of the Transportation Chapter.
Following the public hearing and subsequent review by the Florida Department of Economic Development, the County Commission will hold another public hearing to consider the adoption of CPA No. 2017-F.  The "tentative" adoption public hearing is scheduled for April 25, 2018.

Copies of the proposed Amendment and supporting documents are available during normal business hours in the Planning and Development Services Department at 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, Florida.  Supporting documents will be available the Thursday prior to the public hearing at, Meetings and Agendas (Meetings on Demand) to view or download. 
You are invited to comment on the request by attending the public hearing or submitting your written comments to: 
Planning and Development Services Department

Please call 941-861-5000; TTY: 7-1-1 or 1-800-955-8771; or email: or with your questions.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Manasota Neighborhoods Summit Feb. 23

There's still time to register for the Manasota Neighborhood Summit on February 23rdManatee County, Sarasota County, City of Sarasota, and the City of Bradenton are hosting the Summit on February 23, 8 am - noon at the Manatee Performing Arts Center, 502 3rd Ave W., Bradenton, FL 34205

Join neighborhood leaders from around the region to learn about disaster preparation, communication, history, and the environment for improving your neighborhood. Breakfast is included in the $20 registration cost.

Click this link to register:

Until we Connect again,
Your Neighborhood Services Team

Jane Grogg, Manager
Miranda Lansdale, Community Outreach Specialist
Katie White, Planner

Planning seeks comments on Unified Development Code (UDC)

Sarasota County Planning Dept. is looking for input on its effort to make the development and zoning regulations more consistent and user friendly. Here's its latest update:

Sarasota County wants your input! 
2nd Preliminary Draft of the UDC Now available 

Sarasota County is creating a Unified Development Code (UDC) that updates and brings together the land development and zoning regulations, which control the development of all properties in the unincorporated area of Sarasota County. The new code will be more user-friendly and allow the public to more easily find the rules that apply to a property.

Sarasota County is committed to keeping the public involved and up-to-date throughout this process. A UDC Project web page has been established for this purpose at (Keywords: 'Unified Development Code'). The proposed UDC ultimately will be subject to the full public hearing process and presented to various groups, advisory committees, and the Sarasota County Commission for consideration.

Sarasota County staff have been working with the consulting firm of Calvin, Giordano & Associates (CGA) to create the UDC. Phase I of this 3 phased effort began in March of 2017 with a discovery process conducted by CGA that involved discussions with various representatives of the community, public review bodies, and county staff. Phase II engaged the community through 3 public workshops in September, October, and November of last year. Phase III will involve the full public hearing review process that concludes with the Board of County Commission taking action on a final draft of the proposed UDC.

CGA has prepared a 2nd Preliminary Draft of the proposed UDC, which is a full draft of the UDC, and it is now available for public review on the UDC Project web page.  The County fully anticipates that the UDC will continue to evolve as it makes its way through the development process, including organizational changes, additional updates, and more refined editing.

There will be an additional draft of the proposed UDC prepared by CGA that responds to comments received on the 2nd Preliminary Draft. As review comments are received and modifications are made, it is anticipated that there will be a revised draft of the proposed UDC submitted for further review by mid-March of 2018. A formal review draft will subsequently be prepared by CGA for the full public hearing process by the Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners. This formal review process is anticipated to be initiated in May of 2018.

You may provide your comments directly on the UDC Project web page or by submitting them to the Planning and Development Services Department at
Input received will be addressed by the consultant as the UDC Project moves forward.

Sarasota County prohibits discrimination in all services, programs or activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, marital status, familial status, religion, or genetic information. Persons with disabilities who require assistance or alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.), or who wish to file a complaint, should contact Sarasota County ADA/Civil Rights Coordinator, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, Florida 34236, Phone: 941-861-5000; TTY 7-1-1 or 1-800-955-8771, E-mail:
Thank you for your time and interest in this effort!
We appreciate your feedback!

Planning Commission to hear Proposed Hi-Hat Comp Plan Amendment

Public Notice regarding hearings related to Comprehensive Plan Amendment 2017-G
Hi-Hat Ranch 2050 DOCC Related Amendment
Zoning Ordinance Amendment No. 134
Public Hearings Privately-Initiated
Comprehensive Plan Amendment No. 2017-G;
for Hi-Hat Ranch 2050 DOCC
and Zoning Ordinance Amendment No. 134

Date:        March 1, 2018
Location:  Robert L. Anderson Administration Center, County Commission Chamber, 4000 South Tamiami Trail, Venice, Florida
Time:       5:00 p.m., or soon thereafter
The Sarasota County Planning Commission, acting as the Local Planning Agency, will hold public hearings to consider a proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment and a Zoning Ordinance Amendment.

Comprehensive Plan Amendment No. 2017-G: A privately-initiated amendment to the Primary Components of Chapter 8, 2050 Resource Management Area VOS Policy 2.1 and 2.6 of the Comprehensive Plan relating to Timing/Phasing of Development and Master Development Plan Options.

Zoning Ordinance Amendment No. 134: A privately-initiated Amendment, amending Section 11.3 and 11.4 of the Code relating to Application Submittal Requirements and Definitions.

The proposed amendments to policies and regulations are to allow for a two-step process for the future development of properties located south of Fruitville Road and north of Clark Road as defined in the Amendment as the "Central Village Planning Area" and generally shown on the map below:

Following the public hearings, the Planning Commission will forward its recommendation on the proposed Amendments to the Sarasota County Commission.

You are invited to appear, be heard, and submit relevant evidence. Copies of the petition and supporting documents are available during normal business hours in the Planning and Development Services Department at 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, Florida. Copies of the petition and supporting documents will be available to view or download at, Keyword: Planning Commission two Fridays prior to the public hearings.
You are invited to comment on the request by attending the public hearings or submitting your written comments to: 
Planning and Development Services Department
Please call 941-861-5000; TTY: 7-1-1 or 1-800-955-8771; or email: or with your questions.