Architect says he believes he was inadvertently removed from roster because of his service on another county board
At the recommendation this week of Sarasota County Commissioner Mark Smith, Sarasota architect James S. Piatchuk has been reappointed to the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).
During the commissioners’ regular meeting on June 13, Donna Thomson, the county’s zoning director, told them that one vacancy was open on the BZA, and two people had applied for the seat.
No other commissioner offered a nomination for the position after Smith put forth Piatchuk’s name.
Following the unanimous vote, Chair Ron Cutsinger asked Thompson to extend the commission’s appreciation to Piatchuk for his willingness to serve on the BZA.
The Board of Zoning Appeals hears appeals concerning the interpretation and administration of the Unified Development Code, which contains all of the county’s zoning and land-use regulations, as well as appeals dealing with variances, the county website explains. It has seven members who serve three-year terms. Everyone appointed to the board must have been a county resident for at least two years, and each one must file a financial disclosure form, the website notes.
Piatchuk’s term is in effect through Oct. 31, 2024.
In early April, Commissioner Smith nominated Piatchuk for an open seat on the county’s Planning Commission. However, the majority of the county commissioners approved the appointment of Emmalee Legler of Sarasota, director of marketing and operations at the John F. Swift Inc. construction company in Sarasota.
In his application for that Planning Commission seat, Piatchuk wrote that he was serving on both the Board of Zoning Appeals and the county’s Historic Preservation Board.
In seeking a return to his Board of Zoning Appeals seat, Piatchuk explained in his application that he had served on that board since 2015 and that he was “inadvertently/procedurally/administratively dropped” from the roster because of his service on the Historic Preservation Board.
Attendance records included in the June 13 agenda packet showed that Piatchuk was present for all of the BZA’s meetings in 2021 and 2022, as well as for the first two meetings this year. According to the chart, he was marked “N/A,” or “Not Available” for the April 10 meeting.
In response to the application question about why he was seeking once again to be a member of the BZA, he wrote, “I would like to be engaged and active in the development affairs of my own hometown and bring my professional abilities as an architect to bear on the issues to improve and add to the quality of an area that already has so much to offer. I would like to be reappointed to continue the work that I have been doing.”
Moreover, he continued, “I am a Florida licensed architect with my own local firm, and have worked in the profession locally for 25+ years. It’s important that a [BZA] member have an understanding and appreciation of the area’s history and context.”
Piatchuk further noted that he is a Sarasota native and has lived in the county “almost all of my life …”
He was president of the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Institute of Architects for 2021-22, he added in the application. This year, he remains on that chapter’s board as immediate past president, he wrote.
A second person who applied for the BZA seat — Susan Anderson of Sarasota — noted that she retired from county employment after 34-and-a-half years of service. “I used to work in Zoning and assisted with the BZA administratively as needed,” she continued, adding, I like to keep up to date on the issues in Sarasota County. With my knowledge of Zoning (Municode), I believe I could be an asset to this Board.”
“Municode” refers to the county’s Code of Ordinances, including the Unified Development Code, which may be found online.