All who care about the next half century of Sarasota development are asked to write to the County Commission and to the state Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) to protest 2050 changes. Please send your personal comments to:
Ms. Valerie Brookens
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
107 East Madison Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-4120
John Wesley White
To Ray Eubanks, Valerie Brookens, Sarasota County Commission:
Please do not make changes to the 2050 Plan.
I'm sure when you took your oath of office it must have or should have included a pledge to care for the people of Sarasota County. We the people that live in the area that the 2050 Plan effects, do NOT want changes made.
We live in nice communities along 776 and many are elderly people who have enough trouble now getting out onto 776 without having more businesses to increase the traffic. Homes will not increase the traffic to the extent that businesses, condos or apartments would.
Please consider all of us that live in the area and Do NOT change the 2050 plan. I live in Oak Forest in the Englewood part of Sarasota County.
Ms. Valerie Brookens
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
107 East Madison Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-4120
Ms. Brookens et al.
I’m writing to share some concerns regarding proposed changes to Sarasota County’s comprehensive Plan. I stand with Becky Ayech, John Wesley White, Maynard Hiss, Bill Zoller, Cathy Antunes, Dan Lobeck, Ann Kaplan, Mollie Cardamone and others who are questioning the process and outcome of the proposed revisions to Sarasota County’s comprehensive plan. I’ve worked with all the above-mentioned citizens, some for decades, and while we don’t always agree, I can attest to the fact that all of the above care deeply about the future of our county. I’ve attached some brief material related to my qualifications at the end of this document.
To begin with, I don’t object to any interest group prodding the County Commission to initiate major changes to our comprehensive plan. But when the County commits to doing so, it should be following adopted procedures, fully involving the Planning Commission, taking a comprehensive approach, and proceeding in a logical sequence. In my opinion, the County has failed to do so.
My intent is to focus on some procedural or structural issues others may not have focused on, and there are three I find most relevant: Failure to involve the Local Land Development Regulation Commission, Failure to be comprehensive, and Improper phasing of adoption.
Failure to Appropriately Involve the Local Land Development Regulation Commission
1) Since 2011 an adopted Scoping Process pursuant to Sec. 94-85 has required that staff conduct a two part scoping process wherein “the proposed amendment will be clearly defined and all pertinent issues identified.” The County followed this process when considering changes to the Transfer of Development process in 2013 and it required LPA (Planning Commission) involvement. Commissioner Barbetta mistakenly implied this wasn’t the case.
2) The Board initiated the scoping process in this case when they directed staff to prepare a scoping document and posted that intent on the 2050 webpage (screenshot from County 2050 webpage below). The staff initiated the scoping process as directed and held the required workshops.
3) The next step according to the law and the flow chart used in the TDR process should have involved going to the Planning Commission and providing for public comment. Then, once the Planning Commission weighed in, it should have gone back to the County Commission, which authorizes the scope and processing of the CPA (or not). This makes perfect sense because you would want the LPA involved in determining what should and shouldn’t be considered in an amendment.
4) Instead the County Commission aborted their adopted scoping process. Instead of following the adopted procedure they were partway into, on May 8th 2013 they took a short-cut, aborting the legally-required scoping route they started on, thus depriving the public and Planning Commission of the opportunity specifically laid out in Staff flow charts.
5) To be fair, 94-85 (a) does allow for the County Commissions to waive the scoping process, but, I would argue, once they started on the scoping process the public and Planning Commission had cause to act in reliance of the process. If the Board didn't want to go the scoping route, they should have made that decision at the front-end, not by deviating in the middle of the process.
It is nearly inconceivable that the Local Planning Agency, our Planning Commission, would be cut out of the loop on the crucial question of what a major comprehensive plan review would include, but they were, I believe contrary to both common sense and the county’s adopted rules.I raised this issue with the Commission in writing, with no apparent result.
Failure to be Comprehensive
The changes being proposed are routinely referred to as changes in 2050, (example: SARASOTA 2050 RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AREA (RMA) POLICY REVISITED APPROVED SCOPE OF WORK) but this has not been a revisiting of 2050 Resource Management Area policies –it has focused on just two: the Village/Open Space RMA and the Greenway RMA, basically ignoring the other four RMAs: Urban/Suburban RMA, Economic Development RMA, Rural Heritage/Estate RMA and the Agricultural Reserve RMA.
There are two problems with this approach. The first is that the policies affecting RMAs affect each other. You can’t change the ground rules for developing in the Village/Open Space and Greenway RMAs without generating implications for the other four RMAs. For instance, changing the relationship of new development along Fruitville Road will undoubtedly change the Rural Heritage/Estate experience, but that was not factored in.
The second problem is that there were commitments made in 2050 that need to be revisited, commitments at least as important as revisiting Village/Open Space. Whatever happened to “Policy US 5.1 County / Municipal Coordinated Planning Program” that promised “a planning alliance in order to more fully and comprehensively preserve and strengthen existing communities; provide for a variety of land uses and lifestyles that are necessary to support residents of diverse ages, incomes, and family sizes; and balance jobs with housing.”? Surely that coordinated planning effort would affect the Village/Open Space RMA and vice versa, but there was no consideration of such matters.
Improper Phasing of Adoption
Proceeding without proper scoping, the County decided to phase consideration of proposed changes. They began with “issues generally involving modifications to the Sarasota 2050 Zoning Regulations that do not require any Comprehensive Plan policy changes”. That was followed by a second phase that involved “policy changes (Comprehensive Plan) that do not deviate significantly from the original fundamental values of Sarasota 2050 RMA Policy.” Finally the County looked at “policy changes that may deviate from the original Sarasota 2050 values.”
In other words, the County first (Nov 20, 2013) adopted the most minor, easiest-to-change implementation matters first, and then proceeded (May 21, 2014 – Phase 2) to the most far-reaching policy propositions (Scheduled for ).
Let’s metaphorically compare revising a comprehensive plan with fixing up a house. First there would be an inventory of what needs to be changed and those issues could range from minor homeowner projects such as fixing a sticky lock or leaky faucet all the way to building an addition or major roof repair. The sensible approach would be to assess the entire situation and then make decisions regarding the major changes: Are we adding an addition? Are we replacing all the bathroom fixtures? Those big picture decisions would then inform smaller issues – why obsess about a leaky faucet if the sink will be replaced? Why wallpaper if that wall is going to be removed?
But Sarasota County has proceeded in reverse order – first adopting the most minor, easiest-to-change implementation matters and proceeding through two more stages to the most significant, hardest-to-change policy propositions.
By doing so they have created potential problems. If you repair the faucet and then have a conversation about the replacing the sink (or bathroom), you have already biased the process. “Honey, why are we talking about replacing the sink if I just spent two hours and $89.60 at Home Depot to fix the faucet?”
Whether the county deliberately painting itself into a corner or not is irrelevant: Comprehensive planning decisions should always start with the broad policy decisions and then devolve to matters of implementation. The County chose to take the opposite course. I raised this issue at public meetings with no apparent result.
In light of these problems, and others, the County Commission should decline to adopt the proposed changes at this time. Instead, with a 40% new Commission to be seated in less than a month, they should go back and follow their own ordinance regarding scoping (which means fully involving the Planning Commission in scoping), commit to reviewing all components of 2050 (addressing all six Resource Management Areas), and adopt broad policy measures before tackling matters of plan implementation.
My qualifications: I began an environmental consulting partnership with Julie Morris in Sarasota in 1975 and started working for Sarasota County in the late 70s. My wife and I wrote the habitat descriptions in the award-winning 1980 Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan (APOXSEE), mapped all county habitats (twice) and we also worked on comprehensive plans in Charlotte and Hendry counties. Over the years I have been appointed by various Sarasota County Commissions to ten different advisory bodies (elected Chair of most) and have a lifetime conservation achievement award from the County. When I ran for a seat on the County Commission I received over 79,000 votes and was found to be the most qualified candidate by six newspapers. I served on the Executive Committee of the local Sierra Club group for a quarter century and in 2006 received the 1,000 Friends of Florida Bill Sadowski award for public service at the regional/state level. There’s more, but you get the drift.
John Wesley White
"The adoption of the 2050 plan itself was a manifestation of this ill-advised shift but it contained some safeguards to protect taxpayers. These safeguards are now being rendered meaningless. -- Former Sarasota County Administrator John Wesley White.
I would like to express my opposition to the changes proposed to Sarasota County’s Comprehensive Plan. I moved to Sarasota County in 1987. At that point, Sarasota County was an award-winning exemplar of sound planning and strong environmental policies. For the first ten or so years of my residency in Sarasota County, the County Commission pursued a balanced approach to growth, development, and environmental protection; however, over the past fifteen years, there has been a steady erosion of those policies as development interests have gained increased control of the local political process.
The adoption of the 2050 plan itself was a manifestation of this ill-advised shift but it contained some safeguards to protect taxpayers. These safeguards are now being rendered meaningless. Public opinion in Sarasota County, as validated by official opinion surveys, has remained committed to protection of vital natural resources and preventing harmful development, yet the Board of County Commissioners has consistently approved development that has ignored its urban service boundary, degraded transportation on state and county roads, reduced fees paid by development, diverted infrastructure resources from correcting decades-old deficiencies to support projects that foster increased development, and sought to shift responsibility for growth impacts from the development interests sponsoring increased growth to current residents and state government.
The proposed changes in the county’s comprehensive plan would continue and exacerbate those patterns and are inconsistent with state policies to manage growth, preserve agriculture, and protect environmental resources. These misguided policies have already cost state government millions of dollars and the proposed changes will greatly increase demands on state financial resources, while also requiring County taxpayers to pay more for the inefficient infrastructure of sprawl. I support enlightened growth management based upon sound planning principles and I celebrate the rebirth of downtown Sarasota during the period since I moved here. There is abundant opportunity for growth and development without these proposed changes. I ask that the County Commission defer these proposed amendments to Sarasota County’s comprehensive plan and adopt a more prudent and balanced approach to managing growth.
John Wesley White
"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day."
-- E.B. White
Re: Sarasota County’s proposed changes to Sarasota’s Comprehensive Plan, Specifically 2050
Mr. Eubanks and Ms. Brookens,
I have been a resident of Miakka (also known as Old Miakka) for 34 years. I am also the president of the Miakka Community Club Inc. (MCC). The MCC was formed in 1948 to give a voice to the rural residents in Miakka for preserving and conserving the rural Miakka Community. Since the Growth Management Act required counties to adopt comprehensive plans, MCC has been an active participate.
When the first Comprehensive Plan (Apoxsee) was adopted in Sarasota, there were provisions to protect the rural area of the county. Apoxsee recognized the need to have areas in Sarasota for food and fiber production. Over the years this rural protection has been eroded away. The “food and fiber” protection was removed several years ago. The urban service boundary has been moved into the rural area allowing removal of prime agricultural lands1 and replacing them with urban development. The proposed amendments do nothing to further agriculture protection or rural lifestyles. The clustering of hamlets under the guise of allowing more land available for agriculture is a ruse. No data or analysis was presented to identify what lands would be used for agriculture and which lands would become the clustered hamlets. My experience, as well as experience throughout this country, has been for urban developments to drive agriculture away because of neighbors’ complaints about odors, sounds and smells. To place 2,400 homes, roughly 5,000 people (the average household in Sarasota is 2.2 persons) in the midst of agriculture is a death toll. The “hamlets” are supposed to represent a transitional area from urban to rural. This volume of people and the urban style development does not represent or function as a transition.
The proposed reduction in green space between the “hamlets” also is not a functional transition between developments. Most property in the area identified for “hanlets” is zoned at one unit per 5 acres and one unit per ten acres. The property sizes are generally 330 feet by 660 feet and 660 feet by 660 feet, with some at 330 feet by 1320 feet. A 50-foot setback between “hamlets” isn’t indicative of any rural or agricultural lifestyle or practice. It is merely “urban sprawl” in the rural area.
As a former Sarasota Planning Commissioner, I am cognizant of the requirements of comprehensive plans. The proposed amendments are not consistent with 163.3177(1), F.S.; 163.3177(1) (a) 9, F.S. and 163.3177(1) (b), F.S. i.e. predictable development standards, urban sprawl and mitigation standards. The data and analysis as required by 163.3177(1) (f), F.S. were not met. Therefore, DEO has no other alternative than to deny these proposed amendments.
I challenged the 2050 plan per se, and know these amendments would not rise to the “reasonable person” standard in the administrative hearing process.
During a very rigorous DOAH proceeding, there wasn’t any testimony presented to show that these proposed changes were necessary. Additionally, there weren't any amicus briefs filed to support the proposed changes.
Growth management isn’t about granting privileges to a few but rather about managing growth in a way that protects the existing residents , supports urban infill, protects natural resources and offers a diverse economic base.
1 History of Agriculture in Sarasota County. The Sarasota County Fair Directors and the Sarasota county Historical Commission
Oct. 17, 2014
Dear Mr. Eubanks and Ms. Brookens and Sarasota Commissioners,
Sarasota County to the East of I-75 is largely an open, green world populated by ranches, a few farms, some multi-acre homesites, and waterways.
Now there is substantial interest from developer/builders in transforming that rural landscape into another sort of world, replete with subdivision-style development and commercial shopping. They feel the time has come for a scattering of “villages” and “hamlets,” despite the fact that as many as 50,000 infill locations are open on the West side of I-75 which would place fewer demands on the taxpayers for services and support.
The developer/builders also are seeking to shift the risk of development from their enterprises to the taxpayers of the County through modifications to the Fiscal Neutrality provisions of Sarasota County’s 2050 Comprehensive Plan.
Regarding the proposed Amendments, I wish to make three brief comments:
- Flawed process: The original 2050 plan grew organically out of a long process of consensus and compromise between planners, citizens and developer/builders. The amendments, on the other hand, are the product of closed-door conferences between county staff and developer/builders. The proposed revision deviates from the original pact, and from ethical governance, in ways so serious that some are researching grounds for legal action.
- Missing Pieces: If one were to attempt to draw a map of what the Amendments organize within the areas of the 2050 Comprehensive Plan, one would have little to go on. The guidelines call for villages and hamlets that would presumably be built on various tracts of land now used for ranching or agriculture.
What neither the Amendments nor the original 2050 guidelines address is some positive purposeful plan for all the lands and waters between the housing subdivisions. In other words, what the developer/builders and the county are proposing is nothing but a loose set of rules for new housing. That might be all developer/builders need to think about, but it is hardly what the governmental custodians of the County’s future land use ought to be concerned with.
Specifically, to my knowledge there is little or nothing in this plan that uses the metrics and analytical methods of physical planning to meaningfully integrate:
- Water and water quality
- Public use, e.g. recreation
- Anchoring elements that add community value - a university, for example, or a research institute, think tank, park, public sports facility, etc.
- Incentives to create a coherent, walkable configuration, when studies show walkability adds real value to a community.
- A systematic plan for roads, commercial spaces, greenways, amenities so that each developer does not have to reinvent the wheel for his/her particular subdivision.
In short, we are looking at a large swath of Sarasota County that will contain isolated housing products that lack a unifying context, a theme, and coordinating incentives. Each builder can entirely ignore what each other is doing, or, more likely, compete with them to attract buyers. This is not a plan but a carte blanche to ignore planning. A plan that actually makes provisions for the public lands, waterways, wildlife corridors and elements of community value - indeed, a plan that actually serves as a PLAN pure and simple, is not what’s coming before the Sarasota County Board of Commissioners on Oct. 22, 2014.
- Disfigured Image: From what I’ve heard so far from the developers and builders who have sought these changes, it seems they have given no thought to the landscape, history, natural qualities, or public value of the Eastern portion of Sarasota County. They simply view it as land, pure and simple, as if all land were the same, in some idealized Cartesian universe.
All land is not the same, nor are all counties the same. In our public hearings, over and over we have heard people say that they never intended to move to Florida -- what they saw did not have the sort of cultural values they sought in retirement. Then they happened upon Sarasota, and found a community of intelligent residents passionate about the arts, nature, science, thought, and community. And now they fear, as do I, that that social identity, that “Brand Sarasota,” is slipping away, to be replaced by a mechanical, cliche-driven machine that has been called “Browardization.” The resulting damage to the image of Sarasota could be irreparable.
One final irony: By pressuring the County administration and planners to jettison key aspects of the original 2050 plan, the developer/builders are more likely to open themselves to failure. If they simply build replicant gated communities as they have done forever West of I-75, they may end in producing costly disasters. The younger generations want real land, and are interested in Nature, in growing real food, breathing real air, drinking real water. The developers are behind the Zeitgeist, but suffer the illusion they are leading the way.
As a citizen who believes that Sarasota’s old values are worth preserving, I ask that you reject the changes to the County’s 2050 Comprehensive Plan on the grounds that they reflect aberrant judgment, poor if not unethical governance, and an abandonment of the civic and aesthetic values to which Sarasota citizens have long subscribed.
What we need to do is bring back to the table all the original stakeholders -- the people of Sarasota, the county planning staff, and the developer/builders, and hammer out a practical vision worthy of all -- a vision that will underscore how Sarasota is not a cluster of tired cliches, but a special community that will continue to attract people of taste and discernment.
Mr. Eubanks and Ms. Brookens:
Attached is my analysis (in a shorter version and a longer one) of the latest round of amendments to the Sarasota 2050 Plan.
Please note in particular the complete elimination of the timing constraints in the amendment set for adoption hearing on October 22, which would open up the eastern county to massive urban growth all at one time, overwhelming infrastructure, including roads of critical state concern.
It might also be noted that the adoption version differs from the transmittal version in that the County is now dropping the proposed requirement for an adjustment of the developer’s fiscal neutrality report in the instance that the developer changes the mix of what is being actually developed. Although staff contends that this would require a rezoning and therefore a new report, the Sarasota 2050 Zoning Code has been amended to allow changes in what is being developed, administratively to a point and with Board approval beyond that, without any stated requirement for an adjustment of fiscal neutrality.
This is to request a copy of your ORC or other DEO comments on this amendment.
Thank you very much for your considerations.
Daniel J. Lobeck, Esq.
Personally and as President of Control Growth Now, Inc.
Dear Ms. Brookens and Mr. Eubanks:
I support the comments sent to you by Mr. Zoller (below) and Mrs. Antunes (here) OPPOSING the amendments to Sarasota 2050 Plan.
I, too, have been a very active citizen volunteer for the past 13 years in Sarasota County, lobbying for and supporting the needs and interests of the local residents, the neighborhoods and the eco-system as the leader of 3 different organizations.
These proposed amendments to Sarasota 2050 will go a long way toward undoing much of the hard work we put in to protect our quality of life here for the citizens. The primary benefits of these amendments goes to a very few special interests who seek more and more profit at the expense of the majority of our tax paying residents and visitors.
Please REJECT these proposals for loosening the protections of the 2050 Plan so we can protect the community assets and qualities we, the people, hold dear.
5045 Oxford Dr., Sarasota, FL 34242
Dear Ms. Brookens and Mr. Eubanks:
I echo Mrs. Antunes' comments concerning the ill-conceived proposed amendments to the Sarasota 2050 Plan. As a native of this area, and a descendant of early settlers of this area (what is now a large area of Myakka State Park was my great-grandfather's ranch), I have watched for over 70 years the ever-spreading development that threatens our rural habitats, wildlife, agriculture, and natural areas, and I have, for many years, participated actively in planning efforts here in Sarasota County.
I was one of the founders of the Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG), that, with the County's support, brought together the many stakeholder interests to begin a dialogue about the future of the rural areas. Prior to that, I had participated in the RU-27 Amendment process through a long series of County Rural Lands Workshops. After the MSG, I was one of the interviewees by the ULI when they did their study for the County. The ULI study formed the early basis of the eventual 2050 Plan. I have been there for all of these initiatives over many years of effort.
The 2050 Plan was a compromise that was "agreed to" by the many interests who had been involved in these efforts over the years. Now, though, once we had been through a damaging recession (caused, in large part, by overbuilding), one "side" wants to restructure the compromise by, in effect, pleading "hardship," and the County seems only too eager to accommodate them, loosening the very requirements that were the foundation of the plan that would permit development while conserving and enhancing habitats at the same time.
I will not repeat Mrs. Antunes' well-made argument, but I strongly support it. These amendments are ill-conceived, destructive of the intent of the 2050 Plan, and are designed to benefit the few at the expense of the many . . . including those wild creatures who cannot speak for themselves.
Please reject these proposals in order to maintain the integrity and intent of the 2050 Plan.
William C. Zoller
6375 McKown Road
Sarasota, FL 34240
The Trouble With the 2050 Amendments
News flash: residential sprawl subdivisions lose money. They take more than they give. In community after community across the nation, since World War Two, infrastructure for sprawl has been subsidized by taxpayers lulled into believing that the temporary jobs and insufficient tax revenues will create an economic boon. The Sarasota 2050 chapter of the County’s Comprehensive Plan was designed to remedy that. It was supposed to create healthy development incentives while keeping profit-seeking developers from reaching into taxpayers’ pockets, and to preserve both agricultural and wild habitat in keeping with the State Constitution and the County Charter. But 2050 is being systematically dismantled by a series of developer-sponsored amendments. Taxpayers, guard your wallets!
Sarasota County has been creating land-use plans for over thirty years that envision a fully rural character east of the Urban Services Boundary (roughly contiguous with I-75), and encourage smart development within the urban corridor. 2050 is an optional alternative development model in Sarasota County’s Comprehensive Plan, and it steers rural (green-fields) development toward walkable and bikeable 2-4-story population centers with parks and greenways, in trade for more undeveloped land, and reduced sprawl.
By the terms of Sarasota 2050, all new development is required to be “fiscally-neutral.” But the landowner / developers have concluded that fiscal neutrality, in which all infrastructure and community services are paid for by the development project, must be eliminated. Citing unwieldiness and unpredictability, making little or no effort to find a work-around, the developers have fallen back on the time-honored tradition of back-room deals that force surrounding communities to share the bill.
On October 22, after a pro forma public hearing with zero prospect of making substantive changes to the amendments, Sarasota County’s Commissioners will be voting on whether to subsidize profiteering developers and big landowners looking for a payday at taxpayer expense. The subsidies won’t just be in the form of dollars. They will include our willingness to tolerate dramatic increases in traffic, significant loss of important wildlife habitat, impaired water quality in the County’s streams and bays, and to say a final good-bye to the remarkable rural character of eastern Sarasota County. Farm fields, ranch pastures, greenbelts, greenways, wetlands and wildlife corridors will be lost, and the patchy, fragmented habitat that remains will rapidly degrade.
Let one thing be clear: there is absolutely no demand for all this proposed housing. There are at least 50,000 sites available for development and redevelopment west of I-75 – inside the Urban Services Boundary. The most recent and credible population projections call for 16,000 new units in the county over the next decade: tapping just one-third of the capacity that already exists inside the Urban Services Boundary.
New development in the east will not only destroy the rural character of the region, it will siphon investment dollars away from the existing urban coast, leaving blight untouched and redevelopment opportunities wasted. It is a lose-lose proposition. Urban development built to current standards, however, would be much kinder to the bays and other coastal waters than the existing mashup of decaying, runoff-inducing impermeable surface. The miles urban residents walk, bike, and ride aboard public transportation benefit everyone, reducing traffic and lowering Sarasota County’s carbon footprint.
If the County Commissioners vote for these amendments, they will be on the wrong side of history, and will be voting for a de facto tax increase for their constituents. They will be responsible for the degradation or destruction of habitat that is home to endangered and threatened species such as the Bald Eagle, Wood Stork and Florida Panther, leaving the county open to potential litigation from environmental groups, and possible EPA injunctions. They will also be degrading a threatened species called Old Florida.
If you would like your voice to be heard, the Commissioners’ email addresses are at
https://www.scgov.net/BCC/Pages/default.aspx. Attend the October 22 hearing, at 1:30 in the Commission Chamber, 1660 Ringling Blvd, and sign in to speak. For more information, go to sarasotavision2050.blogspot.com.
Andy Mele is the SunCoast Waterkeeper, an affiliate of the Waterkeeper Alliance, with 220 bay, river and sound Keepers worldwide. Visit www.suncoastwaterkeeper.org or www.waterkeeper.org.
I am concerned about the proposed changes to the 2050 Plan for several reasons:
1. The process is flawed because it is initiated at the behest of developers who say the current plan is unworkable, while in fact it has not been given a chance since we are only at the beginning of an economic recovery. The public has been unaware and not invited into the process of deciding IF changes are necessary and WHAT they should be.
2. Proposed changes endanger the very thing that drives the economic engine in this county, i.e. our natural resources and the ambiance of small and medium city and/or semi-rural life.
3. Infrastructure is not being adequately addressed: roads, water quality and quantity, schools, public transportation to name a few.
4. There has been no clear assessment of existing housing capacity.Please take these things into consideration when dealing with the 2050 Plan.
I served as a stakeholder representing the City of Sarasota in late 1990's and 2000 when the 2050 plan was developed. The plan was far reaching and included infill needs and better relationships with the 3 affected cities....both have been ignored!
Our county for many decades has abided by the constantly repeated statement "growth must pay its way" and the changes proposed certainly do not abide by that.
I fear for a situation of sprawl, overbuilding and the possibility of loss of value of established homes and neighborhoods.
I ask you to take a serious look at this situation as our established comprehensive plan is challenged.
I might add that the 4 or 5 developers proposing these changes and stating that our 2050 plan is not working have not mentioned the fact the great recession prevented investment in the development of villages and hamlets....I close with the idea that our 2050 plan has not been tested in Sarasota!
October 9, 2014
Ms. Valerie Brookens
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
107 East Madison Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-4120
Re: 2014 Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan Amendments
Dear Ms. Brookens:
I am very concerned how the proposed Amendments to the Sarasota 2050 plan will impact on the quality of life of the residents of Sarasota County. I frankly don’t feel the analysis was comprehensive enough as new important variables have come into the equation that have not been included and should be. The issue of traffic congestion and accidents in the areas that have recently been built upon is a critical need that is missing in the analysis. One such area that in the last year has experienced significant accidents is a route that will have added congestion with the new development that is at the core of the pressure to amend the Sarasota County 2050 plan. There have been major accidents already with the added congestion burden in the area of University and I75 and the new mall will be opening next week and high season is beginning. I have already had to sit parked on I75 trying to get off at that over congested area.
Recently another route to facilitate traffic has been approved but it only funnels traffic to another highly congested artery into Sarasota i.e., Fruitville. I have begun collecting accident data. Some is gotten locally through the county but where there are accidents with I75, that data I don’t have yet. I can tell you, however that the present County Commissioners approved a Walmart at an intersection that has one of the highest incidents of traffic accidents in the County, has a Publix on one corner already and another Walmart less than 2 miles away. I used to live close to this intersection and each day I would hear a siren. Accident data once again which is a quality of life issue was not a consideration. I will be watching this data as this Walmart opens and will be watching the data at the other intersections with new developments.
Of course I’m concerned about other quality of life issues like potable water supplies and adequate sewage treatment capabilities. It has been tabulated that there are over 100,000 sites within the USB that already have utilities available that could be built upon. And that there really seems to be no immediate need to further impact on the environment on the east side of I75 and particularly with the congestion and accident data and even crisis management evacuation being left out of the analysis.
Please recommend that the amendments be sent back to the drawing board. Important components affecting the quality of life of Sarasota residents are missing. Having this decision seemingly rushed before the election really seems wrong as well.
Thanks for your consideration.
Vicki L. Nighswander MAT, MPH
Sarasota resident and Candidate for Sarasota County Charter Review Board District 2