Sunday, June 10, 2018

Robinson vs. Robinson

In a recent opinion piece in the Herald-Tribune, Christine Robinson, former County Commissioner and executive director of the Argus Foundation, argued that the future of properties zoned for ILW -- Industrial, Light Manufacturing, Warehouse -- is threatened by residential and recreational development.

Citing the Legacy Trail and the community's efforts to protect the Celery Fields as examples of land use initiatives that "hamper" ILW-zoned properties, Robinson wrote:

"Every year, we lose industrial light warehouse properties, both currently designated and those planned to be designated. Residential dwellings are being approved on or next to industrial lands. This is hampering owners’ ability to use those industrial properties for what they have been intended." May 14, 2018 HT guest column.

Robinson correctly notes that the Board of Sarasota County Commissioners has voted to approve locating residential near industrial, and that it has also approved converting existing ILW properties to residential. She strongly contends that existing ILW uses need to be "protected" from the "mission creep" of housing, parks and open space amenities.

What's striking about Robinson's championing of ILW properties is that as a Sarasota County Commissioner, she was at the forefront of the movement to convert ILW to residential use. In some cases, the conversion was approved over the objections of the neighbors.

In short, Argus director Robinson's concerns about issues of land use infringement did not prevent County Commissioner Robinson from voting for the precise rezoning changes she says have damaged the public trust.

The public record shows that Commissioner Robinson voted to approve converting commercial, office, and industrial uses to residential. In warning of the dangers to industry and to public trust, Robinson is taking issue with her own voting record. Here are three public hearings at which Commissioner Robinson voted to rezone ILW to residential:

25 May 2016: Adopted Rezone No. 15-23
On May 25, 2016, Robinson voted to adopt Rezone No. 15-23 "to redesignate approximately 21 acres of the Palmer Ranch Increment IV Development of Regional Impact (DRI), Parcels A8 and A9, from commercial/office and industrial uses to residential uses for the development of 140 multi-family dwelling units."
Commissioner Robinson voted to convert 21 acres of ILW to residential.

27 Oct 2015: Adopted Rezone No. 14-36.

Robinson voted on October 27, 2015 to adopt Rezone No. 14-36 "to redesignate an approximate 20 acre portion of Parcel A7 within the Palmer Park of Commerce, from commercial/office and industrial uses to residential uses for the development of 260 multi-family dwelling units." see page 1 of staff report.
  • see page 13 for the definitive redesignation statement. 
Commissioner Robinson voted to convert 20 acres of ILW to residential over the neighbors' objections. See 27 August 2015 hearing for additional information.

9 July 2014: Adopted Rezone Petition 13-27
On July 9, 2014, Robinson voted to adopt Rezone Petition 13-27 "to redesignate approximately 68 acres, known as Parcels A2 and A6 within the Palmer Park of Commerce, from commercial/office and industrial uses to residential uses for the development of 180 single-family residential dwelling units." 
Commissioner Robinson voted to convert 68 acres of ILW to residential over the neighbors' objections.

Summing up: In three votes, Commissioner Robinson voted to remove over 100 acres from lands set aside for light industrial, office, and warehouse use and let developers build houses and apartments there instead. Robinson's record on the Commission is at odds with her posture as director of the county's influential Argus lobby.

The public conversation about planning and land use is important and complex, and it needs the perspective of business leaders as well as voices from the whole spectrum of the community. But to truly benefit our community, every perspective deserves to be presented with informed transparency.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent information. For those who are familiar with Robinson's rhetoric, the double talk is no surprise.