Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee sees 2 members reappointed and 1 new person seated

Commissioners approve nominees in their vote on April 20 Consent Agenda

Helen King. Photo courtesy Sarasota County

The Sarasota County Commission has reappointed two members and named a third person to the county’s Environmentally Sensitive Lands Oversight Committee (ESLOC).

The unanimous votes came as the commissioners approved their April 20 Consent Agenda of routine business matters.

The ESLOC “[p]rovides a conduit for citizen input to the [commission]; makes recommendations and provides advice on land protection within the Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program (ESLPP),” the advisory council’s webpage explains.

The ESLPP and its companion Neighborhood Parklands Acquisition Program are funded by an annual ad valorem tax of 0.25 mills, which voters initially approved in 1999. The millage rate is to remain in effect through 2029, the county website says.

The ESLOC has 10 members who must meet following criteria, the webpage adds:

  • “Three with experience/knowledge of business and development.
  • “Three with experience/knowledge of the environment.
  • “Three at-large representatives.
  • “One Students Taking Active Roles (STAR) Government Representative.”

The terms are for three years, except for the STAR student, who serves one year, the webpage points out.

Helen King and Raymond K. Loraine were the individuals reappointed to the ESLOC on April 21. The new member is Alyn Kay.

The ESLOC webpage points out that King is vice chair of the advisory board. The chair is Jono Miller, retired co-director of the Environmental Studies Program at New College of Florida.

Raymond Loraine. Image from Stantec

A county memo provided to the county commissioners in advance of the April 20 meeting explained that King’s and Loraine’s terms were due to expire on April 30. Another member of the ESLOC — Tony Clements — had resigned, the memo said. Thus, three seats were open.

Staff advertised the vacancies on the county website, the memo noted. However, only three applications were received, the memo said.

On past occasions, commissioners have asked staff to re-advertise advisory council seats when staff received only the number of applications necessary to fill open seats.

King, who is an optometrist with Brown Vision Care on South Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, wrote in her application that the reason she wanted to serve on the ESLOC is “to help preserve” environmentally sensitive lands in perpetuity “and help keep our waters clean. This will enhance the quality of life for residents and attract tourism to keep our economy strong.”

She previously served as a member of the boards of the Lemon Bay Conservancy, Apalachee Audubon and Protect Our Watersheds, she added.

Loraine of Sarasota, a senior scientist and environmental consultant with Stantec Consulting Services in Sarasota, wrote on his application, “I support public lands programs and believe that my 30 years of experience as a scientist and environmental consultant in southwest Florida allows me to contribute to the goals of ESLOC.”

He also noted that he had served two previous, three-year terms on the advisory board as a business/development representative. Additionally, he is a past member of the county’s Environmental Policy Task Force, he pointed out.

“I currently am not active in other civic or community organizations,” he wrote.

From April 2019 through Feb. 4 of this year, ESLOC attendance records show that King hit the 88% mark, while Loraine was present for 90% of the meetings.

Jono Miller is chair of the ESLOC. File image

On his application, Kay of Sarasota noted that he is a Florida registered landscape architect who had been searching for “something I could contribute to with regard to the environment of Sarasota County.” He added that he believes “I have the experience and training to help with your goals.”

His resume says he was an environmental scientist for six years for the Southwest Florida Water Management District, he authored the landscape design guidelines for Publix supermarkets, and he is a past member of the Broward Beautiful Board, which awarded county grants and reviewed Florida Department of Transportation plans for Broward County.

Kay further pointed out on his application that he is a professional mangrove trimmer and a retired tree farm owner.