Friday, March 24, 2017

Are we following our Comprehensive Plan in Sarasota?

The Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan ought to encode, as far as possible, judicious care for our community's values. It should embody principles of sound stewardship of our lands and public assets.

And to an extent, it does.

The question is, do our elected officials follow the Comp Plan, as they are required by law to do?

Here is a letter sent to the County in February that points up an apparent discrepancy between intention and act:


To Sarasota County Commission: Michael Moran, Paul Caragiulo, Nancy Detert, Al Maio, Charles Hines

To County Administrator: Thomas Harmer
Cc: Sarasota Citizens

From: Adrien Lucas, Sarasota County Resident

Re: Violations of Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan

To Whom it May Concern:

I have been reading the Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan, dated 2/6/17, and it is striking how our Sarasota Planning Commission and Sarasota County Administrator, Thomas Harmer, fail to follow our county comp plan.

I only focused on Element 1, Environmental Systems from our County Comprehensive Plan.  I suspect I, along with others, will find a county system wide failure to adhere to the comp plan in every chapter of the county comp plan, but we are up against a ticking clock.

For all of the county documentation reveling in the future of “eco-tourism” or future planning to help preserve and improve the quality of neighborhood life, these county documents, our Charter and Comp Plan only appear as glossy marketing materials written to entice someone to move here and all will be swell.  
In this email I cut and pasted just a few items, of many, relevant to the proposed rezones, CAPS-critical area plan amendments and sales of county surplus lands from our current Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan, dated 2/6/17.

I hope all of you will read them and consider the validity and importance of our County Comp plan.

The proposals under consideration for both TST Ventures and Restaurant Depot do nothing to enhance the neighborhoods around Our Celery Field or the park. Both companies could have future success elsewhere in Sarasota. This is not "NIMBY'ism" even though I live in South Gate, I consider Our Celery Field, the beaches, Myakka, downtown, Sarasota in its entirety as my back yard.

Thank you for your consideration, I appreciate your time and remain hopeful about your decisions.

Please read just a smidge of what I cut and pasted from our county comp plan:

Source: CLICK HERE, page 4 of 54

A healthy natural environment also contributes to the economic health of an area. It is a key factor in attracting and retaining businesses and people within the County and the region. One of the emerging economic drivers for Sarasota County is  eco-tourism, which is directly tied to the quality and quantity of natural habitats and resources that the county maintains and protects. Eco-tourism activities can range from enjoying a day at the beach to more active endeavors such as kayaking, birdwatching, hiking, and horseback trail riding. These opportunities to connect with and experience nature are another aspect of a healthy and sustainable community.

The Goals, Objectives, and Policies in this Element address the following environmental topics; native habitats and principles for evaluating development proposals in native habitats; wildlife and associated habitat management; citizen, visitor, and business environmental stewardship; managing the coast; creating a network of connected environmental lands and green spaces; and science-based decision making through data collection and monitoring.


Page 7 of 54: The linkages between the built and natural environments are also crucial, as the quality of our natural environment has a direct impact on the health and quality of life of the human community. Development that provides a high quality of life to citizens and visitors should address responsible stewardship of land and natural areas, encourage efficient use of energy, preserve unique character of neighborhoods, and provide a connected system of parks, trails, and waterways. Natural features exist in interconnected systems such as air, water, and nutrient cycles that collectively support life.

Page 12 of 54: env policy 1.3.11 Native habitats set aside in preservation and conservation areas shall be managed in accordance with resource management plans, which are subject to review and approval by the county through the development review process, to ensure maintenance and, if necessary, enhancement of the functions and values of these native habitats in perpetuity. For the maintenance and enhancement of privately-owned preservation and conservation areas set aside prior to the county’s requirement to provide a resource management plan the county shall encourage and provide incentives for management of those areas.

I encourage you all to add Our Celery Field into Item 1.3.13, and Item 1.3.14, shown below:

Page 12 of 54: env policy 1.3.13 Developments surrounding Oscar Scherer State Park, the SchererThaxton Preserve, Myakka River State Park and Myakka State Forest shall avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to these public lands through special measures that address: water quality and quantity, light and noise pollution, strategies to allow for wildlife movement, and land management practices.

Page 13 of 54 env policy 1.3.14 Protect the natural diversity, processes and functions of natural communities in the public resource lands including Myakka River and Oscar Scherer State Parks, the Scherer-Thaxton Preserve and Myakka State Forest. Coordinate with other government agencies to maintain and enhance soils, groundwater, surface and subsurface waters, shorelines, vegetative communities and wildlife habitats within these management areas.  

Page 13 of 54 env obj 1.4 pollution Mitigate the health and environmental risk associated with natural resources impacted by pollution.

Page 13 of 45 env policy 1.4.1 To the extent practical and consistent with applicable ordinances, the county shall work to reduce pollution entering the environment and to restore contaminated sites.

Page 15 of 54 env obj 1.6 Integrate natural elements into the built environment. env policy 1.6.1 Encourage connectivity within the Urban Service Area Boundary between green spaces creating corridors for birds, fish, and wildlife movement. Priority will be given in creating or enhancing connections that achieve greater net ecological benefit compared to maintaining existing isolated habitat fragments.

Page 17 of 54 env policy 1.8.3 The county will establish and maintain wildlife corridors and coordinate with state and federal wildlife agencies when reviewing development proposals within the Joint Planning Areas set forth in Future Land Use Map Series.

Page 18 of 54 env obj 2.1 habitat for birds, fish, and wildlife Protect habitat for endangered and threatened bird and wildlife species identified in official federal, state, or international treaty lists.

County Source:

Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan, 2/6/17, Policy List by Chapter

Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan, 10/25/16

Source: CLICK HERE, page 4 of 54

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