CONA calling for return to smart growth

Efforts to amend Sarasota County’s Comprehensive Plan and initiative to implement single-district County Commission elections to be focus of March 12 session

CONA members gather for a recent meeting. Image contributed by CONA

On March 12, the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) will present the president of Control Growth Now, Dan Lobeck, to discuss recent and proposed changes to the Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan, the nonprofit has announced.

The plan is a vision of the county that had been carefully crafted for the future by citizens participating in an extensive process, the release explains. The initiative “resulted in an award-winning plan, which garnered national recognition,” the release adds.

Lobeck will discuss how these changes are compromising the smart growth goals of that vision, including those protecting neighborhood compatibility and the environment, limiting traffic congestion, constraining urban sprawl and making growth pay its own way rather than the expense having to be borne by taxpayers, the release points out. He also will propose solutions “within local government institutions,” the release says, along with discussing “political choices designed to benefit and represent the interests of neighborhoods, residents, and businesses.”

Among the potential solutions is an initiative seeking the implementation of a system in which only voters in a district would be able to elect the county commissioner from that district, the release explains. Supporters hope to place a referendum on that issue on the November General Election ballot.

A question-and-answer session will follow Lobeck’s remarks.

The monthly CONA meeting will be held on Monday, March 12, at the Sarasota Garden Club, located at 1131 Boulevard of the Arts in Sarasota. It is free and open to the public, the release emphasizes. Doors will open for a half-hour social gathering before the meeting, which will commence at 7 p.m.

The Sarasota Garden Club stands at the intersection of Boulevard of the Arts and U.S. 41, south of the Municipal Auditorium. The parking lot and the entrance are reached from Van Wezel Way.

CONA is a civic organization, founded in 1961, which represents, educates and assists neighborhoods throughout the county that are seeking to protect and advance their interests in the community, the release notes. See for more about CONA.

Lobeck is a Sarasota attorney whose firm specializes in representing condominium and homeowner associations, the release adds. “He is the founder of Control Growth Now, whose objective for 29 years has been to balance the influence of speculator interests in local governments while protecting neighborhoods, nature, mobility, and taxpayers,” the release says.