20151030-30 Oct 2015

County Commission denies Benderson petition for Fruitville Initiative parcel

Fruitville Initiative Multi-Use rendering March 2014Board members cite conflicts between the proposed modifications and the vision for mixed-use development

It all came down to the vision for the Fruitville Initiative, a years-long community process to create a signature look for the area considered the gateway to Sarasota County from Interstate-75. Benderson Development’s director of development, Todd Mathes, was appearing before the County Commission on Oct. 28 to seek rezoning approval so the firm could deviate from regulations crafted for the Fruitville Initiative. (Read more)

Sarasota City Commission remains focused on Housing First plan

Susan Poricau LinkedInMayor Shaw calls the approach a ‘spectacular vision’ for handling the tough issue of homelessness

During a special meeting on Oct. 27, guest speaker Susan Pourciau talked to the City Commission about academic journals’ reports of studies showing that the Housing First approach to homelessness results in 85 percent of individuals staying in the dwellings where they are placed. (Read more)

Two high-rise city projects — a hotel and 10-story luxury apartment complex — to commence construction

Second Street condo complex former Jesse Biter property Oct. 2015Downtown Sarasota will be home to an Embassy Suites & Spa on U.S. 41 and new housing on Second Street

The City of Sarasota’s Building Division issued permits last week for two significant projects in the heart of downtown Sarasota. The first was a building permit for the $40 million Embassy Suites & Spa at 202 N. Tamiami Trail. The 18-story hotel will be constructed across U.S. 41 from The Vue Sarasota Bay and Westin hotel project, which is rising just to the south. (Read more)

County Commission approves public hearing on revised food truck ordinance with more flexibility

Boston_food_truck._by Monika M. Wahi WikimediaZoning administrator says the document remains under review, so no date has been scheduled

Although the document itself remains a work in progress, as Sarasota County Zoning Administrator Donna Thompson made clear this week, the County Commission has unanimously approved the scheduling of a public hearing on regulations with more flexibility for food truck operations. (Read more)

As the city looks to put more art in its roundabouts, a discussion arises on scale and public input

Orange Ave. roundabout open Oct. 16 2015 SCC photoThe City Commission considers means of providing more public response in the future before settling on designs

One week after the City of Sarasota announced the roundabout at Orange Avenue and Main Street was fully open to traffic, the city commissioners revisited the topic of the height of the sculpture chosen for display in the roundabout’s center. In what might be called typical Sarasota fashion — where public art often equates to public debate — disagreement among commissioners and residents arose over whether the Embracing Our Differences sculpture, by Arizona artist S. Blessing Hancock, was too tall. (Read more)

County drops fire-rescue assessments of city parcels for the time being

Mike Connolly SCC Oct. 19 2015City’s deputy attorney uncertain whether the City Commission will reverse its plans to file suit over the matter

A day after Sarasota County Administrator Tom Harmer sent a letter to City Manager Tom Barwin saying the county was removing disputed city-owned parcels from its current fire-rescue assessments list, Deputy City Attorney Mike Connolly told The Sarasota News Leader he did not know whether the City Commission would reverse its Oct. 19 vote to file a lawsuit against the county. (Read more)

Opulent October

Florida Paintbrush with Zebra Swallowtail Fran Oct. 19 2015(Photo essay) Those who wander natural places or garden with native plants know that Florida is blessed with two wildflower extravaganzas. Northerners expect spring to be flowery … but fall? Fall is when many native wildflowers reach their bloom heights. September, October and even November bring a great burst of flowering and seeding plants before winter sets in. Some, like black-eyed susans, grow in wet places along roadsides. Blazing star and palafoxia prefer high and dry. (Read more)

Siesta Seen

Beach Road Midnight Pass intersection looking east with sidewalks Feb. 4 2014 RBHRoundabout for Beach Road/Midnight Pass remains in FDOT’s draft 2017-2021 construction plans; repairs continue on Stickney Point drawbridge

Although residents largely have remained opposed to the prospect of a roundabout at the intersection of Midnight Pass Road and Beach Road, the project is listed in the draft of the 2017-2021 Five-Year Work Program for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), I learned this week. With a total cost of $1,630,172, the roundabout is listed for the 2017-18 fiscal year. (Read more)

Commissioners offer much praise and raises to their county administrator and county attorney

Tom Harmer at dais oct. 28 2015 RBHHowever, board members tell the county administrator he needs to make sure his upper-level managers handle more problems instead of his having to intervene

The Sarasota County Commission moved quickly this week to award a 3-percent raise to County Administrator Tom Harmer, whose current salary is $195,707.20, after praising his work as part of his annual evaluation. County Attorney Stephen DeMarsh also will receive a 3-percent raise, an automatic process built into his contract, Chair Carolyn Mason indicated during the board’s regular meeting on Oct. 28 in Sarasota. Nonetheless, the commissioners lauded DeMarsh for his work as well. (Read more)

More county segments could be eligible for Canopy Road designation

Canopy Road Huntington April 2013 RBHCounty Commission will hold a public hearing on Nov. 17 to consider allowing shorter roads to be included

On Nov. 17, people who would like to see shorter segments considered for Canopy Road protection in Sarasota County will have an opportunity to make their views known to the County Commission. A public hearing has been scheduled that day on a recommendation by the Sarasota Tree Advisory Council (STAC) to make roads less than 660 feet in total length eligible for the Canopy Road designation. (Read more)

Commission approves final phases for Central County Water Reclamation Facility on Palmer Ranch

Central Sarasota Water Reclamation Facility as of Oct. 2015 BCC$12.3 million contract goes to a Port Charlotte firm, with work to be completed in October 2017; project will handle part of Siesta Key’s sewage

With a compliment from one board member about how the bids were handled, the Sarasota County Commission on Oct. 27 unanimously approved a $12,279,000 contract with Poole & Kent Co. of Florida in Port Charlotte to construct Phases 3 and 4 of the Central County Water Reclamation Facility. The waste treatment plant is located at 7905 S. McIntosh Road, between Palmer Ranch Parkway and Sarasota Square Boulevard. (Read more)

UPDATE: FDOH lifts ‘No Swim’ advisory issued for Siesta Beach

Siesta beach sceneHigh surf conditions may be contributing to the higher levels of bacteria detected, health officials say

On Thursday, Oct. 29, Sarasota County health officials issued a precautionary “No Swim” advisory for Siesta Beach because of the detection of elevated levels of enterococci (enteric) bacteria, “some of which are naturally present in the environment,” Sarasota County announced. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a correlation exists between the levels of enteric bacteria in recreational waters and human health, a county news release points out. (Read more)

Public reminded to change smoke alarm and weather radio batteries

Change smoke alarm batteries Sarasota CountyEnding of Daylight Saving Time at 2 a.m. on Nov. 1 marks a good time to check alarms

Approximately 70 percent of deaths in home fires occur in dwellings with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms, the Sarasota County fire marshal is reminding the public. “Smoke alarms can save lives — but only when they are working properly,” a county news release points out. When people set their clocks on Sunday, Nov. 1, to mark the return to Eastern Standard Time, they also should think about their smoke alarms, county Fire Marshal John Reed says in the release. (Read more)

Masonic group donates funds to Gocio Elementary School in Sarasota

Widows Sons check to Gocio Elem-fall 2015 School BoardThe $1,900 will be used for materials to enhance classroom lessons

The Widows’ Sons Masonic Riders Association recently donated $1,900 to Gocio Elementary School, the Sarasota County School District has announced. “The funds will be used to purchase enrichment materials to enhance classroom lessons,” a news release says. Widows’ Sons is an international Masonic motorcycle association dedicated to raising money for the widows and orphans of Master Masons, the release notes. (Read more)