Last two surplus Bee Ridge parcels that were focus of residents’ request for conservation designation sold by County Commission

Board members had agreed to deed restrictions limiting the amount of development on each

A graphic shows the land at 6901 Bee Ridge Road. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Just three days before they delved more deeply into a discussion about marketing county-owned land that staff has deemed no longer needed, the Sarasota County commissioners approved the sale of two surplus parcels on Bee Ridge Road.

Both pieces of property were the focus of public comments last year, resulting in commission efforts to ensure they would not become sites of intensive development.

Commissioner Paul Caragiulo also had asked that staff ensure the parcels were not needed for future stormwater projects. As chair of the board in 2017, Caragiulo reported fielding numerous complaints from residents about flooding and poor drainage. He indicated that those multiplied in the wake of Hurricane Irma’s strike on the state in September 2017.

The first lot the board members voted to sell on May 22 is located at the northwest corner of Bee Ridge Road and Aberdeen Drive. Thanks to their unanimous approval of their May 22 Consent Agenda of routine business items, it was to be sold to George Youssef for $150,000, a staff memo said.

In the event that deal fell through, the memo recommended the board approve a backup resolution authorizing the sale of the land to Tomasz Frankowski for $149,600. The commissioners also agreed to that, as part of the May 22 Consent Agenda.

The second parcel is located at 6901 Bee Ridge Road. Again, as a result of the board’s vote on the May 22 Consent Agenda, that land was to be sold to Ann L. Forrest for $268,000.

The land at 6901 Bee Ridge Road originally was one of two parcels the county acquired in June 2005 for $1,045,000, one May 22 staff memo explained. Comprising 14.78 acres, the lots were to be used for a stormwater retention pond “to accommodate the Bee Ridge Road Capital Improvement Project road widening.” After that project was completed, the memo added, about 3.85 acres remained unused. In August 2017, the commission declared it surplus.

The graphic shows the property at the northwest corner of Aberdeen Drive and Bee Ridge Road. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The 1.56-acre parcel at the northwest corner of Bee Ridge and Aberdeen — and companion land on the northeast corner — was purchased to accommodate a roundabout at that intersection, a separate May 22 staff memo noted. After that project was concluded, both pieces of property remained unused.

In May 2017, as the commissioners were working on their budget for the current fiscal year, residents who live near the Bee Ridge parcels talked of the value of the land as wildlife habitat and as a corridor for animals moving through the area. They asked the board to consider placing a conservation easement on the property.

Even then, however, board members were pressing county staff to bring them surplus lands to offer for sale, as they were facing whether to raise the millage rate or impose a 5% Public Service Tax on residents’ utility usage. Then County-Administrator Tom Harmer and Deputy County Administrator Steve Botelho were searching for ways not only to balance the 2018 fiscal year budget but also to start building back up the “rainy day” reserve fund that commissions had been using to balance the budgets during the Great Recession and its immediate aftermath.

On May 26, 2017, during a commission budget workshop, Ruthmary Williams was one of the Bee Ridge Road residents to address the board about the Bee Ridge parcels. People even had reported sightings of Florida panthers on the Aberdeen land, she said. “You can’t develop everything.”

Commissioner Michael Moran told his colleagues he had met the previous week with a group of Bee Ridge residents. They expressed what Moran characterized as “just a genuine concern” about the future of the property.

A chart shown to the County Commission in November 2017 shows potential proceeds from a variety of surplus lands at that time. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Commissioners discussed the potential of selling the land to a neighborhood association in that vicinity, but the speakers who addressed the board said they had no such organization that could negotiate with county staff.

Finally, the commissioners directed staff to hold discussions with residents in that area, to determine whether they could pool money to buy the property. On Nov. 28, 2017, Botelho reported that the residents offered $65,000 for three surplus parcels.

“I think that’s pretty much out of the question,” Commissioner Nancy Detert responded.

The staff estimates for those three pieces of property — if they were sold for the highest and best use, based on potential zoning — were as follows:

  • $238,000 for the parcel at the northwest corner of Bee Ridge and Aberdeen; its market value in 2017 was $133,945, according to the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office
  • $272,000 for property at the northeast corner of Bee Ridge and Aberdeen; its market value was $153,251.
  • $308,000 for the parcel at 6901 Bee Ridge Road; the market value in 2017 was $254,908, according to the Property Appraiser’s Office.

During the November 2017 discussion, Commissioner Alan Maio finally made motions to sell the two smaller properties with deed restrictions limiting them to one house each. After further discussion, he also made a motion to sell the parcel at 6901 Bee Ridge Road with a deed restriction limiting that site to three houses.

The sale of the 1.37-acre parcel at the northeast corner of Bee Ridge Road and Aberdeen won County Commission approval on March 13 as part of that meeting’s Consent Agenda. The land went to Darvin and Lian Boatwright for $138,000.

Pricing the last two parcels

An aerial view shows the parcels at Aberdeen Drive and Bee Ridge Road. Image from Google Maps

In December 2017, one May 22 staff memo said, staff selected Mark Coon of Keller Williams Realty Select to market the lot at 6901 Bee Ridge for $308,000. The bid closed on March 1 with no offers meeting the minimum price, the memo added. After staff consulted the broker, the memo noted, the decision was made to lower the bid minimum to $263,000.

The property went back on the market on March 9. When the second bid period closed on April 23, the memo said, the county had received one bid that met the minimum.

In December 2017, staff set a minimum bid of $155,000 for the parcel on the northwest corner of Bee Ridge and Aberdeen, the other May 22 staff memo pointed out. However, when the bid period ended on March 1, no offers met the minimum, the memo added.

Coon recommended staff reduce the price to  $145,000, the memo continued. When the second bid period closed on April 23, the bids from Youssef and Frankowski both met the minimum, and both were offered with no contingencies.