County’s Comprehensive Plan wins regional honor

Gulf Coast Chapter of the Florida Planning & Zoning Association lauds the effort that went into the recent update

Planning Division Manager Allen Parsons. File photo

Sarasota County’s Comprehensive Plan has received the 2016 Outstanding Planning Project Award from the Gulf Coast Chapter of the Florida Planning & Zoning Association (FPZA), the county has announced.

“The Comprehensive Plan guides the county’s decision-making and investment of resources in the unincorporated areas of the county,” a news release explains. “Sarasota County recently completed an 18-month update to this important, overarching plan … to reflect changes to our community characteristics and demographics,” the release adds.

“The Comprehensive Plan is essential in setting the stage for how we want to develop and grow as a community, and updating it was a huge undertaking,” said County Administrator Tom Harmer in the release. “We’re especially proud that this important work was facilitated and completed in house by our professional Planning and Development Services staff and more than 50 subject matter experts from multiple county departments.”

The update process was broken up into various cycles that included a variety of public comment opportunities, including workshops, “deep dives,” recorded meetings on YouTube, draft review meetings, stakeholder sessions and online surveys, the release points out.

“Our team made extensive efforts to include citizens throughout this process,” said county Planning Division Manager Allen Parsons in the release.

Seven Planning Commission public hearings preceded three days of public hearings with the county commissioners before the plan was sent to state, regional, and local agencies for their review and comment as part of a coordinated state planning process, the release explains.

“Sarasota County did an outstanding job with its comp plan,” said John Osborne, Manatee County planning official and president of the FPZA’s Gulf Coast Chapter, in the release. “Staff handled public input professionally. Their work products, communications and handouts were extremely high quality and well written. This high level of performance builds better relationships and improves the public trust with the community and stakeholders,” Osborne added in the release.

Image courtesy Sarasota County

The FPZA is a professional planning organization consisting of planners, zoning officers, property owners, developers, engineers, private and public lawyers, landscape architects, appointed and elected officials, laypersons, business representatives and administrators, the release notes.

For more information about the Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan, visit or call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 861-5000.