20161230-30 Dec 2016

With state prepared to issue permit for Lido project, Siesta organizations working on legal action


Siesta Key Association seeking extension of 14-day period for challenges

At 5:22 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) manager overseeing the Lido Renourishment Project sent a three-paragraph email to a variety of state, federal and City and County of Sarasota personnel. In it, Greg Garis wrote that FDEP’s “Beaches, Inlets and Ports Program announces issuance of a Notice of Intent to Issue a Joint Coastal Permit for the Lido Key Beach Nourishment Project, File No. 0333315-001-JC.” (Read more »)


Nixing latest shelter sites, county board to pursue outreach to Sarasota business owners

One business owner tells the News Leader of a new initiative a private group is working on to help ameliorate downtown problems with the chronically homeless

Given a difference of more than $420,000 between Sarasota County’s appraisal of the Bucko’s store site on Myrtle Street and an appraisal conducted by the owner — plus a projected expense of more than $1 million to extend water and sewer services to the property — the Sarasota County Commission this week voted unanimously to end negotiations on that site, as well as two others near it, for the location of a come-as-you-are homeless shelter. (Read more »)

Venice Public Library to mark its last day on Saturday, Jan. 30

Concerns about potential ill effects of mold exposure prompt County Commission to vote unanimously to allow planning for a new library to proceed

After debating whether to keep the Venice Public Library operating through season, the Sarasota County commissioners agreed on Jan. 12 that the potential for ill health in patrons, volunteers and staff exposed to mold in the facility made the closing the prudent act. (Read more »)

Retail pet sales to end in county as a result of 3-2 vote

Stores selling dogs and cats have until Jan. 27, 2017 to come into compliance with the new regulations; further discussion planned on exemptions for breeders of purebred animals

It was almost exactly 11 hours after Sarasota County Commission Chair Al Maio opened the Jan. 27 regular meeting that the board voted 3-2 to ban the sale of dogs and cats at retail stores in the county, the culmination of a process that speakers pointed out began about four years ago. (Read more »)

Whole Foods planning on new store opening in the summer of 2017

County Commission approves the project at Honore Avenue and University Parkway on a 4-1 vote

For a 4.5-acre area on University Parkway that Sarasota County staff has called a rare piece of wetlands, it came down to a matter of allowing infill, with mitigation about 6 miles away, or preservation, and infill won. (Read more »)

Sarasota Police Department’s HOT teams’ goal is to help homeless people get services they need, supervisor says

As part of a regular Continuum of Care meeting, Capt. Kevin Stiff explains the program to service providers and other individuals who work with the homeless in Sarasota and Manatee counties

For the Sarasota Police Department, “arrest is not the primary result of a contact with homeless individuals,” Capt. Kevin Stiff told about 50 people during the regular Continuum of Care meeting conducted this week by the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness. (Read more »)

Residents get their first look at City of Sarasota’s Fruitville Road plan

Both supporters and opponents weigh in on the design that city planners and consultants say would finally accomplish the goal of making the thoroughfare more pedestrian-friendly

As Steve Stancel, chief planner for the City of Sarasota, spoke at the front of a packed City Commission Chambers during a workshop on Tuesday, March 1, he described the current conditions on Fruitville Road in downtown Sarasota. (Read more »)

Sarasota County, West Villages and the Atlanta Braves would share expenses for a new stadium

County Commission votes unanimously to proceed with negotiations on new Spring Training facility for the team

“Cautionary excitement” was how Sarasota County Commissioner Christine Robinson termed it just before the board voted unanimously this week to authorize County Administrator Tom Harmer to continue negotiating terms with the West Villages and the Atlanta Braves for the funding, design and construction of a state-of-the-art spring training destination in the new master-planned community near North Port, Englewood and Venice. (Read more »)

Benderson family contributed close to $6 million to get Finish Tower construction underway

County administrator gives Siesta Key audience an update on Benderson Park projects in preparation for the 2017 World Rowing Championships

The family of the late developer Nathan Benderson — for whom Sarasota County’s Benderson Park is named — has contributed “almost $6 million” for the construction of the Finish Tower the park needs to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships, County Administrator Tom Harmer announced during a March 5 meeting on Siesta Key. (Read more »)

County Commission debates use of a fund set aside more than two years ago with more than $8.1 million

Money saved through a policy change has been set aside as a contingency fund for the 2017 World Rowing Championships and homeless initiatives, but debate ensues over using it to build a new ‘rainy day’ fund

In May 2013, the Sarasota County Commission split 3-2 on a change to its reserve policy, requiring that the county keep enough money to cover 75 days of operations in an emergency situation instead of 90. Then-Commissioner Joe Barbetta was joined by Commissioners Carolyn Mason and Charles Hines in supporting the modification. Then-Commissioner Nora Patterson and Commissioner Christine Robinson voted “No.” (Read more »)

Precision Machining Program’s success drawing attention from across the country, county commissioners learn

Tours of manufacturing facilities have sparked increased interest in skilled trade jobs, industry representative says

Companies from all across the United States are contacting CareerEdge Funders Collaborative to learn how a public-private partnership to create a Precision Machining Program in Sarasota County has proven so successful, Mireya Eavey, executive director of the organization, has told the Sarasota County Commission. (Read more »)

City Commission splits 3-2 in denying city-issued building permit to Woman’s Exchange so the nonprofit could expand

Majority of board sides with neighborhood association in concerns about safety, but the vice mayor and the Woman’s Exchange CEO point to city staff’s findings that the permit showed the plan met city zoning guidelines

As the retired general manager of the City of Sarasota’s Neighborhood and Development Services Department put it on Monday, April 11, “It’s the growing intensity of the very successful Woman’s Exchange that’s being debated here.” After about two-and-a-half hours of both testimony and discussion — on top of more than four hours of testimony on April 4 — three of the five city commissioners cast votes showing they believed the proposed increase in that intensity was more than residents of the Laurel Park Neighborhood should have to shoulder. (Read more »)

City Commission chooses not to hold referendum this fall on changing city election cycle

Vice mayor the only board member to offer support for the ballot initiative in November

It came down to the lack of a second. After hearing pros and cons from more than a dozen city residents — including two former city commissioners — four of the current Sarasota City commissioners chose not to hold a referendum this fall on moving the city elections from the spring to November. (Read more »)

North Beach Road segment on Siesta Key will be abandoned, County Commission decides

Coastal Setback Variance also approved for new construction to replace old buildings that do not meet current standards

It took about three hours and 45 minutes, a last-minute proffer from the petitioners in one public hearing and discussion about interpreting a section of the Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan, but the County Commission this week finally agreed to abandon a 360-foot segment of North Beach Road on Siesta Key, which has been closed to through traffic since 1993, staff pointed out. (Read more »)

County Commission scraps November referendum plans, asks staff about funding South County projects through other means

Board members grill staff over cost per square foot for the proposed South County Courthouse

The Sarasota County Commission this week asked its staff to come back in June with more detailed breakdowns of costs for a new South County courthouse and renovations to the R.L. Anderson Administration Center in Venice — including the potential of surtax revenue and other sources of money to help pay for the projects without having to hold a public referendum. (Read more »)

County Commission sides with roofers and business organizations in denying tax incentives to national firm looking to relocate its headquarters

Economic Development Corp.’s CEO talked of potential for $100 million in annual economic impact with 180 new jobs in place

Referencing what she called the “business disruption” created by the proposal, Sarasota County Commissioner Christine Robinson made the motion on May 24 to deny the opportunity of local and state tax incentives to a national roofing company interested in moving its headquarters to the county — with the potential of $100 million in annual economic impact when the firm reached its full employment of 180 people. The motion passed 4-1, with Commissioner Carolyn Mason in the minority. (Read more »)

Age and maintenance issues in section of the jail raise County Commission concerns and questions

Board Chair Maio talks of fear that ‘someone will get hurt’ and embarrassment that county facilities have such situations

Sarasota County Commission concerns earlier this year about the timing of the replacement of the air conditioning system in the West Jail may have prompted the discussion, but the board members this week saw evidence of just how many problems Sheriff Tom Knight’s staff and the inmates are having to contend with in the 41-year-old building in downtown Sarasota. (Read more »)

Residents question numerous facets of Benderson plans for U.S. 41/Stickney Point Road property

Company representative plans four more public meetings this month, all at Pine Shores Presbyterian Church, after addressing SKA members on June 2

It could be more than 10 years before Benderson Development Co. completes all the residential construction it plans for Siesta Promenade, its project slated for the northwest corner of Stickney Point Road and U.S. 41, Todd Mathes, director of development for the firm, told about 110 people during the June 2 Siesta Key Association (SKA) meeting. (Read more »)

Siesta resident files suit against the county over abandonment of North Beach Road segment

Mike Cosentino argues that the board violated the county’s Comprehensive Plan when it took the 4-1 vote on May 11

On the afternoon of May 24, Siesta Key resident and business owner Mike Cosentino walked to the podium in the Sarasota County Commission Chambers in Sarasota during the Open to the Public period at the end of the board’s regular meeting. (Read more »)

18-hole miniature golf course proposed for Calle Minorga in Siesta Village

Attorney for applicant says it will not be a ‘destination attraction,’ but a place families and others already visiting the Village would be able to enjoy

The operator of miniature golf courses in Bradenton Beach and on Lakewood Ranch’s Main Street has filed a preliminary application with Sarasota County for an 18-hole project in Siesta Village. The site — a 10,500-square-foot treeless parcel located at 5160 Calle Minorga — is parallel to part of Ocean Boulevard. (Read more »)

County Commission agrees that potential for harm to Siesta Key warrants Environmental Impact Statement on Lido project

Board votes unanimously to seek that initiative and to convey its concerns to the state about the proposal for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use a staging area in Ted Sperling Park

Responding to a July 14 request from the Siesta Key Association, the Sarasota County Commission on Aug. 23 voted unanimously to ask the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to undertake an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to more fully explore the potential for harm to Siesta Key from the proposed dredging of Big Sarasota Pass to renourish South Lido Key Beach. (Read more »)

Mitigation agreement and new access road for second Whole Foods site win County Commission’s formal approval

Lawsuit filed in February to stop the development on a wetlands site is settled four days before it was to go to trial

Just four days after a lawsuit was settled with Sarasota County and intervening defendants over the planned new Whole Foods project on University Parkway, the County Commission unanimously approved a mitigation agreement involving wetlands on the site. (Read more »)

Stressing that the equipment chosen will be the key to success, the City Commission votes to proceed with a paid-parking plan

Vice mayor casts only dissenting vote; chair of downtown merchants group indicates a legal challenge may be coming

With only Vice Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie voting “No,” the Sarasota City Commission this week directed Parking General Manager Mark Lyons and his staff to begin vetting equipment for another round of metered parking in downtown Sarasota. (Read more »)

County staff to deliver a report to commission detailing facets of further studies planned for Siesta Promenade

County Commission will hold a workshop after getting the report; boundary hearing to be continued until board addresses the full Critical Area Plan application and rezoning

It took last-minute assurances from the county staff that further studies that would be expected of Benderson Development — plus agreement that the Sarasota County Commission could hold a workshop on those matters. But approximately five hours and 45 minutes after they began the agenda item, the commissioners voted unanimously on Oct. 11 to continue a public hearing on Benderson’s request for approval of the formal boundary of its proposed Siesta Promenade project. (Read more »)

Backyard chicken ordinance wins final County Commission approval

CLUCK founder cites seven-year process to reach this point

Sarasota County Commission Chair Al Maio referred to it this week as the culmination of an almost two-year-long process, but one of the founders of Citizens Lobbying for Urban Chicken Keeping (CLUCK) told The Sarasota News Leader the Oct. 10 board approval of a backyard chicken-keeping ordinance actually began in June 2009. That was when the nonprofit organization first broached the issue in the community. (Read more »)

Bowden ultimately wins unanimous support of School Board as choice for next superintendent

Chair Shirley Brown first chose St. Johns County candidate

A process that began formally in the spring and drew a total of 49 applicants from across the United States ended up with the only homegrown candidate winning the job. (Read more »)

Law enforcement officers’ increasing burden of handling behavioral health crisis transports for homeless people sparks renewed call for shelter

Data to be shared with community foundations during upcoming talks involving representatives of Tallahassee’s homeless facility, County Commission learns

From Oct. 1, 2015 through March 31 of this year, the majority of individuals transported multiple times — by law enforcement officers and a firm under contract with Sarasota County — to hospitals or other facilities because of specific types of behavioral health crises were identified as homeless, a Sarasota County study has found. (Read more »)

County Commission maintains revised Comprehensive Plan will continue to provide adequate protection for people as well as the land

Big part of public hearing focuses on revised policies regarding traffic, but board declines to modify staff-recommended language

Although almost 20 speakers pleaded for stiffening language they called weaker in the draft, the Sarasota County Commission this week unanimously approved a revised version of its Comprehensive Plan that it maintains will protect the county and its residents during future land-use planning efforts. (Read more »)

New county impact fees for seven types of services to go into effect April 1

County Commission votes 4-1 to set them at the 100% level

With Chair Alan Maio having made the motion, the Sarasota County Commission voted 4-1 on Nov. 8 to implement new impact fees for seven different types of services at the 100% level, effective April 1, 2017. (Read more »)

Initial work on master pump station to begin Nov. 14 on Siesta Key

Projects remain on schedule for December 2017 decommissioning of the Siesta Key Wastewater Treatment Plant, county staff says

The new master pump station that will replace the Siesta Key Wastewater Treatment Plant will have triple redundancies and it will not be designed to allow any discharge into the Grand Canal, Sarasota County staff members told about 60 people during the Nov. 3 Siesta Key Association (SKA) meeting. (Read more »)

Food truck operators finally win relaxed regulations in the county

County to maintain 150-foot separation between a vendor and a residence, and the businesses will be restricted to private property in certain zoning districts

With changes having been made at their request in October, the Sarasota County commissioners this week unanimously approved a revised food truck ordinance that will eliminate restrictions between the mobile units and between the trucks and brick-and-mortar restaurants. (Read more »)

Petland seeks to prevent retail dog and cat sales ban from going into effect

Complaint filed in 12th Judicial Circuit Court cites articles of the Florida Constitution in challenging the County Commission’s split approval of the ordinance

Contending that the retail pet sales ordinance the Sarasota County Commission approved in January violates numerous sections of the Florida Constitution, the owners of Petland in Sarasota have filed a complaint against the county, seeking to nullify the law. (Read more »)

Army Corps of Engineers tells County Commission an Environmental Impact Statement not warranted for Lido Renourishment Project

Nov. 29 letter says that ‘vigorous opposition’ to the project does not equate to ‘existence of substantial dispute or scientific controversy’ about its effects

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has informed the Sarasota County Commission that it does not believe an Environmental Impact Statement is warranted on its joint project with the City of Sarasota to dredge Big Sarasota Pass to renourish South Lido Key. (Read more »)

Opponents of a potential Siesta hotel project argue against a proposed county Comprehensive Plan amendment that would allow it

Representatives of Gary Kompothecras explain that only a ‘boutique’ hotel would be allowed, and only three island parcels have the necessary zoning

Although only a dozen members of the public showed up for a Dec. 7 neighborhood workshop on the subject, speakers were adamant that they do not want to see a hotel bring more density and intensity to Siesta Key. (Read more »)

Judge upholds City Commission’s denial of building permit to Woman’s Exchange

Nonprofit’s CEO says it is ‘considering its options’

A 12th Judicial Circuit Court judge in Sarasota has upheld the Sarasota City Commission’s April 11 split vote to overturn city staff’s approval of a building permit for the Woman’s Exchange. The downtown Sarasota nonprofit organization had sought to expand into a new structure on Rawls Avenue. (Read more »)

Siesta Promenade studies to be discussed at Dec. 19 workshop

Event planned to focus solely on analyses people want to see the county require as part of Benderson Development’s application for a Critical Area Plan

At 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 19, Sarasota County staff will host a neighborhood workshop at Pine Shores Presbyterian Church that has been designed to focus solely on the scope of work to be required of Benderson Development for its Siesta Promenade proposal, the county has announced. (Read more »)

Contract authorized to lay groundwork for Community Youth Plan

County commissioners raise questions about funding and necessity of the data collection, though, before their vote

The spokeswoman for advocates of development of a Community Youth Plan indicated this week that she had expected quick passage of a contract for the groundwork research. After all, the item was placed on the Sarasota County Commission’s Dec. 13 Consent Agenda of routine business matters. (Read more »)

With costs whittled down, County Commission preparing to move forward on three major facilities projects

Bid process for designs of a new South County courthouse and Anderson Administration Center renovations, a new Sheriff’s Office Fleet Maintenance Facility and a new Central Energy Plant expected to start early next year

With Sarasota County Commission consensus this week, staff will move forward with adding three high-priority projects to the county’s Capital Improvement Project (CIP) program — and at roughly a third of the total original cost estimate for them. (Read more »)

County sues firm over construction defects at Ed Smith Stadium

Complaint seeks damages on counts of breach of contact, breach of implied warranty and negligence

Sarasota County has filed a complaint against a Rhode Island corporation, claiming defects in the firm’s renovations of Ed Smith Stadium for the Baltimore Orioles’ use during Spring Training and failure of the firm to correct the problems. (Read more »)

New Cassia Cay residential concept wins County Commission approval

Board learns the ultimate plan for the development on Little Sarasota Bay will be pegged to sale of the property

With Sarasota County’s Planning Services manager having explained the unusual path leading to that point, the County Commission agreed unanimously on Dec. 14 to approve a residential plan with less density on about 13.3 acres fronting Little Sarasota Bay. The project is called Cassia Cay. (Read more »)