May 18, 2018 Edition


TOP STORIES:

School Board unanimously approves new interlocal agreement extending closure hours for School Avenue on school days

City Commission to address proposed changes on May 21

On May 15, the Sarasota County School Board took the first step toward enhanced safety on School Avenue, which splits the Sarasota High School campus. On a unanimous vote, the board approved a revised interlocal agreement with the City of Sarasota that would close the street to all users between Hatton Street and Tami Sola Street from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. whenever Sarasota High is in session. (Read more »)


Special Magistrate sides with Sarasota County in dispute over Aviva rezoning denial in June 2017

County Commission agreed with staff that project would destroy functioning wetlands

On June 7, 2017, the Sarasota County Commission unanimously denied a petition that would have allowed the rezoning of property located northwest of 17thStreet and Honore Avenue in Sarasota. Representatives of the Aviva senior living facility had applied for the rezoning so Aviva could construct 85 new independent living units and an adult daycare facility. (Read more »)


Impact fees to cover $3.5-million expense of second helicopter for Sheriff’s Office

Purchasing pre-owned model will save money and eliminate wait of more than a year on a new aircraft

Not only does the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office aviation unit — Air 1 — enable officers to track and capture suspects, Sheriff Tom Knight explained to the County Commission on May 9, but it also has proven invaluable in firefighting and search-and-rescue operations. (Read more »)


2014 ordinance does give County Commission latitude to regulate location of medical marijuana dispensaries, county attorney says

Stephen DeMarsh offers options for changing county’s handling of those businesses

Following back-to-back votes in April that approved two medical marijuana dispensaries in the unincorporated areas of Sarasota County, commissioners began fretting that they might be inundated with applications for such facilities. Do they have the latitude to tighten the ordinance a previous County Commission approved in 2014 to regulate such businesses? they asked Deputy County Attorney Alan Roddy on April 11. (Read more »)


More documentation sought on how proposed house fully west of the Gulf Beach Setback Line would not have negative impact on Siesta Key beach

Applicant Saba Sands II also would need to construct a new Beach Access 10 if it wants to use the existing access for a driveway, county staff says

Sarasota County’s Environmental Permitting Division staff has continued to question a Siesta Key applicant’s assertion that a proposal for a three-story house fully seaward of the Gulf Beach Setback Line (GBSL) would not have a negative impact on the coastal system. (Read more »)


Refined concepts for Sarasota bayfront released

More public presentations planned next week

About 85% of people who commented last month on three proposed concepts for the redevelopment of 53 acres on the Sarasota bayfront expressed a desire for the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall to be retained and/or repurposed, the design firm working on proposals for The Bay reported this week. (Read more »)


Alpert wins mayor’s post on 3-2 vote

City Commissioner Ahearn-Koch elected vice mayor

During a special meeting on May 11, Sarasota Vice Mayor Liz Alpert was elected mayor on a 3-2 vote, while Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch unanimously was elected vice mayor. Commissioner Willie Charles Shaw had nominated himself for the top post, to succeed Mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie. After Ahearn-Koch nominated Alpert, Alpert addressed her colleagues, asking for their vote “on the most senior commissioner who has not had the opportunity to serve as mayor …” (Read more »)


County’s ‘bed tax’ revenue up close to $1.5 million for first six months of fiscal year

March collections came close to the $4-million mark, Sarasota County Tax Collector’s Office reports

Through February, the county’s Tourist Development Tax (TDT) revenue was up more than $1 million year-over-year. Thanks to the traditional big boost in March, the total “bed tax” collections so far this fiscal year are almost $1.5 million higher than they were by the end of March 2017, the latest figures show. (Read more »)


Negotiations authorized to determine next steps on storage of City of Sarasota’s records

City Auditor and Clerk Nadalini working with deputy city attorney on purchase or lease of 17th Street building

Sarasota City Auditor and Clerk Pamela Nadalini has begun working with Deputy City Attorney Michael Connolly to determine whether the city should buy or lease property located at 3580 17th St. in Sarasota as a new storage facility for the city’s central records. (Read more »)


Sarasota County entertainment industry rebate program revised regarding flexibility on caps

Commissioner uses the example to encourage staff to be more open about problems arising from real-world applications of ordinances

As Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines characterized it, one request recently before the board was an example of how an ordinance or resolution could sound good when it was approved but turn out to be problematic in its application. (Read more »)


Siesta Seen

New funding agreement inked for the Breeze; road swap process explained; Memorial Day weekend promises big crowds and lots of trash; deputies making progress at Accesses 1 and 2; island hurricane practice rumors dispelled; county’s Emergency Services leaders demonstrate great rapport with audiences; snowy plover nests discovered on the Key; and an update on turtle nesting

Thanks to a unanimous County Commission vote on May 8, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) will contribute $431,876 to the Siesta Key Breeze open-air trolley through the rest of the state’s current fiscal year, as well as FY19. Additionally, a staff memo provided to the board says the Breeze in March recorded its highest ridership mark since it began operating in March 2017: 36,195. (Read more »)


OPINION:

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OTHER NEWS:

Estimator released to help property owners determine what their third homestead exemption would be if state amendment passes

Tree Advisory Committee seeking public involvement by scheduling evening meeting on May 23

Sarasota County Schools advertising for chief of police and three sergeants for new district-based force

‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign underway to promote seat belt use, Sarasota Police Department announces

Osprey Avenue resurfacing project to begin May 29

School safety and mental and behavioral health to be topics of May 23 school district town hall meeting

13th annual Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week scheduled for June 1-14

Volunteers helped make 2018 Seagrass Survey a success this month