County has about 159,200 dwelling units, analysis shows
As part of a state-mandated review of the Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan, county staff has determined that the county has more than adequate residential dwelling capacity for the next 10 years, the County Commission recently learned.
Staff concluded that the potential capacity is 46,068 dwelling units, county Planner Elma Felix told the board members on Feb. 9. The projected number of new dwelling units needed over the next 10 years is 15,408, she added.
A staff report detailing how the analysis was conducted — and its findings — said the county has approximately 159,200 existing dwelling units. Future land use densities show that the total residential capacity is 205,300, that document noted. “Thus, in 2020, we are currently at 77.5% of buildout,” the report added, with emphasis.
The majority of the potential residential capacity — 65% — is within the Urban Service Area, where infrastructure — such as water and sewer lines — exists to serve new development, the analysis noted. The designated Future Urban Area of the county has 9% of the capacity, the document added.
Further, North County has 53% of the capacity, the report said, noting that Preymore Street in Osprey is considered the dividing line between North and South County. Although part of Palmer Ranch is in South County, the document pointed out, for the purposes of the analysis, all of Palmer Ranch was included in North County.
During her Feb. 9 presentation, Felix — who has led the team conducting the Comprehensive Plan update — explained that the analysis had to include the Urban Service Area, as well as the Future Urban Area of the county, which is designated on a county Future Land Use map.
Further, the analysis had to encompass lands west of what is called the “countryside line,” and it had to take into consideration the impacts of municipal growth on the residential capacity in the unincorporated parts of the county, Felix noted.
The Comprehensive Plan review is required every seven years to ensure county plans include any legislative changes or other necessary updates, Felix pointed out.
In determining the residential capacity, she continued, staff applied a variety of calculations and assumptions, based on local demographic trends, to data provided by the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research (BEBR). That enabled staff to come up with a housing demand forecast, she explained.
Additionally, Felix said, staff applied density characteristics to the remaining vacant county land, taking into account development prohibitions on environmentally sensitive or protected properties.
“The remaining capacity in large planned developments is also considered,” a slide noted.
No minimum value for residential capacity is required or suggested in the state statutes or the county’s Comprehensive Plan, Felix stressed. Moreover, she said, the data provided to the state in accord with the Comprehensive Plan review would not affect commissioners’ policy decisions and/or actions.
The proposed revisions of the plan have to be submitted to Florida’s Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) for its review. The commission is scheduled to adopt the revised sections of the Comprehensive Plan by April 1.
Before that date, staff will need to address any comments that come from the DEO, Matt Osterhoudt, director of the county’s Planning and Development Services Department, reminded the commissioners.
Other facets of the analysis
The residential capacity formula that Felix showed the board members divides the potential residential capacity by the projected housing demand. If the number is less than 100%, she said, that means not enough land may be available to meet future needs. If the figure is equal to 100%, she continued, that means just enough residential capacity will be available. Finally, if the number is greater than 100%, “[T]here is an adequate supply of residentially designated land to meet projected demand.”
The report on the staff findings, which was provided to the commissioners in their Feb. 9 agenda packets explained, “The Residential Capacity Analysis does not identify which vacant properties may or may not develop in the future. The analysis does not forecast future market demand, incorporate the desires of individual property owners, or address any other development limitations. It is also important to note that residential capacity is dynamic as a result of the land use planning process. Lands are rezoned or set aside for preservation, properties are redeveloped at higher densities and even converted from non-residential to residential uses.”
The document also discussed other facets of the residential capacity analysis, which incorporated data obtained through the county’s Geographical Information System (GIS) software.
To calculate the number of existing dwelling units, the report said, staff identified parcels according to their land use codes, or state codes, which are assigned by the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office personnel. Agricultural parcels were included in the analysis, the document noted, “as they may contain built residential units.”
To determine the potential number of dwelling units, the document continued, two GIS layers were created. One involved large developments, which did include county Sarasota 2050 Plan projects approved east of Interstate 75, as well as rezoning approvals since 2015 in which the applications called for 50 or more dwelling units, the document added.
“It is important to note that these larger developments do not always build out to their total approved units,” the report pointed out. As a result, it continued, staff used a figure representing 90% of the approved units.
“At the time of the analysis,” the document said, “three large developments (Strazzera, Hi Hat Ranch, and Winchester Ranch) were in the application process and not yet approved. Two other large holdings (the Haile Property and Palmer Ranch Holdings East) did not have pending applications but are considered large potential projects under the Sarasota 2020 Plan option.” In those cases, the document noted, staff calculated the potential number of dwelling units on those properties on the basis of their current Future Land Use and zoning densities. However,” it added, the calculations also took into account the developers’ requested number of dwelling units, or the potential number of units, with the 2050 option, “to gain supplemental information regarding the future potential of these large property holdings.”
Property Appraiser’s Office data also was used to identify vacant residential and commercial parcels, the document said.
The maximum residential density allowed within each zoning district was applied to the vacant parcels’ acreage, the report added. Staff then used a method that prevented the rounding up of the potential number of units to the next whole number, the document pointed out.
To calculate the potential number of dwelling units on vacant parcels based on their future land use designation, the report continued, staff used the middle value of the density range. Again, a method was employed to prevent rounding up to the next whole number, the document said.
“In some instances,” the report noted, the potential number of dwelling units calculated on the basis of zoning density resulted in higher numbers than determined by using the middle value of the future land use density range. “When this occurred,” the report said, the zoning designation figure was selected as the final calculation.
Altogether, the report pointed out, the county has approximately 7,000 vacant parcels outside of the defined, large planned developments that were identified in the residential capacity analysis.