Friday, October 12, 2018

Proposed Sale of Quad Parcels begs important questions

Sarasota commissioners keep talking about selling public lands -- Commissioner Maio has repeatedly said he wants to sell all three "Quad" parcels to private developers. But the reasoning remains clouded in vague and preemptive assumptions. After reading the thorough and fair Sarasota News Leader story regarding the public "Quad" parcels near the Celery Fields, a few of these assumptions of the Board seem worth questioning:

1. Surplusing public land to meet short term budget shortfalls is egregiously short-sighted public policy. Is it in fact public policy? Or, is it this Board's tactical avoidance of confronting economic crisis head on? If we accept this dodge to avoid raising taxes, what happens after all the valuable public land is sold? The same unpleasant remedies will then apply - impact fees, taxes, etc. All the sale of our public lands does is postpone an unavoidable political quandary. Another way of putting it: The Board's "policy" is to cannibalize our public property for political expediency, because Sarasota's surplus lands policy holds them harmless to do so.

Fruitville Initiative near I-75
2. A crying need for ILW could easily be solved in a better location: The Fruitville Initiative contains 200 acres with the same MEC land use designation as our public parcels have. These lands could be more sensibly be rezoned for ILW (Light Industrial and Warehousing) on decent roads in a new area near the highway. Are certain developers of industry putting pressure on their friends on the Board because they know they'll get ILW land cheaper if the Board does the rezone and sells our public land?

3. What ILW shortage? Drive up Bell Rd. near the quad parcels and see the "now leasing" signs:

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