New zoning regulations for Pinecraft win Sarasota County Commission approval

Bicycle rental businesses in residential areas and new setback requirements compatible with the nature of the community, board agrees

A graphic shows the area of Pinecraft, with ‘Old’ Pinecraft outlined in red. Image courtesy Sarasota County

It happened so fast — with no comment from any member of the public — that Sarasota County Commissioner Alan Maio called it “almost anticlimactic.”

After the second required public hearing, the County Commission voted unanimously on March 14 to approve the Pinecraft Neighborhood Overlay District for the Amish and Mennonite community just east of the city of Sarasota. The area is bound primarily by Bahia Vista Street and Beneva Road.

The process to create the new zoning regulations took several years, Maio pointed out, with “many, many issues covered [and] lots of hard work on the part of our staff and on the part of the folks involved.”

Pinecraft residents appointed to a steering committee represented their neighbors in collaboration with staff, county Planner Steve Kirk had noted.

“Commissioner Maio, I’m glad you made those comments,” Chair Nancy Detert responded. “This Pinecraft is something that’s going to prove to be very, very special for our community. I think it’s really government at its best when we’re willing to accommodate diversity in our community … and make a portion of our community extremely special and notably so,” she added.

A woman waits to cross Bahia Vista Street at the Kaufman Avenue intersection in Pinecraft. Rachel Hackney photo

The board members indicated after the first public hearing on the proposed ordinance — conducted on Jan. 17 — that the overlay district would win their approval without any problems.

Among the changes are the following:

  • A provision for bicycle rental businesses on residentially zoned property.
  • The prohibition of incompatible and auto-oriented uses in commercial districts — package or liquor stores, bars or taverns, drive-through restaurants, drive-through retail sales or service operations, convenience stores, gas pumps, and vehicle sales or service operations.
  • Reduced parking requirements.
  • Modified development standards for the “Old Pinecraft” subdivision that was platted with substandard streets and lots.

Kirk noted on Jan. 17 that the area of the community known as “Old Pinecraft” was platted in 1925, with lots measuring 40 feet by 40 feet. “Most of the houses in this area are very small.”

Many of the parcels have been combined through the succeeding years, he added, leading to 40 feet by 80 feet being the most common size. Nonetheless, he said of the lots in Old Pinecraft, “They always stretch from street to street regardless of the size. … You end up with unusable building footprints or very, very small building footprints.”

Proposed setback changes in the overlay district, Kirk said, “will help with the development and redevelopment of these lots.”

The bicycle rental business provision, he pointed out, is a nod the fact that Pinecraft is mostly a walking and biking community, with the Amish and Mennonites eschewing the use of automobiles.

Shortly after the commission approved the implementation of the overlay district, it also unanimously agreed to the legalization of golf carts on specific streets in Pinecraft. That March 14 vote followed a separate public hearing.