Thursday, April 4, 2019

Critical Area Plan Workshop Information

Last fall, the Board of Sarasota County Commissioners directed Planning to undertake a new Critical Area Plan study of our public lands at the Celery Fields known as the "Quad Parcels," or just "Quads." It's an opportunity to take a new look at what is there and what might be possible, if, for example, new conditions, or a change in the roads, were in place.
Critical Area Plan Scope 

On Jan. 29, the Planning Dept. issued a memorandum outlining the Scope of Work for this study. That memo is here.

Lead County Planner Steve Kirk has been consistently helpful in answering our questions about the process. The County is looking at a date in mid-May for the workshop, probably to be held in the evening. The date and venue have not yet been finalized. 

Note: Mr. Kirk says staff will review and discuss with the public proposals previously submitted by the Fresh Start Initiative. Also, some new proposals are being developed within our communities. Anyone who has a new proposal is invited to submit it to Mr. Kirk at any time -- his contact information is at the end of this post.

Below are the responses thus far to our queries:

The public workshop will be an informal event and staff will be flexible in how it concludes. Timing speakers would be unnecessary, however, domination of discussions will be discouraged. 
Any input regarding CAP should be directed  to me at my address, phone number or email address below. The intent  of the workshop is to present to the public all the information the staff has at the time, and then hear ideas and feedback from those in attendance. The staff presentation will include any ideas related to the CAP or the County properties previously provided by the public, including those previously put forth by Fresh Start.  We will also include anything else we receive  prior to the workshop.  It will be made clear in our presentation that we will continue to take public input, and will welcome conversations on the CAP issues after the workshop, and until the CAP study is completed. 
The staff is beginning the study and preparing for the public workshop. 
We will record audio of the workshop.   
The work of the study will continue after the public workshop and should be completed within the 9 month period.  
As stated in the scope of work, once completed, a presentation and discussion of the study will be scheduled with the County Commission. What happens after completion of the study is at the discretion of the Commission and I would not speculate on what action they may take. However, should the Commission direct staff to amend the Critical Area Plan or rezone any of the County owned properties, the public hearing processes as required and outlined in the UDC and CAP regulations will be followed. The County owned “Quads” parcels are all zoned Open Use Rural (OUR), and industrial uses are not permitted. The establishment of an industrial use  would require a change of zoning to a district permitting such use. 
If the Board directs staff to rezone any of the parcels, staff would prepare and process a rezone application as required by the UDC including all necessary documentation. The preparation and processing of such an application, including public hearings, would likely take a minimum of 6 months. The CAP study authorized by the Board, on which we are now working, is not an application to amend the CAP or rezone any property.  It is intended to provide the Board with information to inform decisions in the area of the CAP. Notice of the public workshop will be posed on the Planning and Development Services Calendar on-line at calendar will link to documents related to the workshop. I cannot at this point tell you exactly when this will be posted, but approximately 2 weeks before the workshop.

Steve Kirk, AICP, ASLA 
Planner III 
Sarasota County Planning Services 
1660 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota, FL 34236 
Office: 941-861-5202 
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  1. I have commented previously, but the county needs a large raised covered platform where people can do yoga, qi gong, tai chi, and mediation in natural setting. I'm a physician who teaches yoga and mediation, and it's hard to find public places that are conducive to providing these services that people desperately want. THANK YOU.

  2. Thank you, Sue - this is something that could be incorporated in a number of proposals that we've seen for the quad parcels.

  3. Keep it green. The larger parcel could be utilized to move historic houses that get in the way of developers. Use crushed shell to allow the machines that move houses to work. No paving. Cooperating with other non for profits could bring them back to their former glory. They could have docents to supervise the public. Groups could reserve space like they do at The Phillipi Estate. Removing invasive growth and replacing them with native species is a great project. Keep narrow shell paths that wind around native trees. If it's wet, leave it wet and build up the pathways. Allow the wetlands to expand. Yes, we need parking and access, but otherwise every dammed square inch does not need " development".