20160108-8 Jan 2016

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On Jan. 26, County Commission public hearing expected on new Whole Foods site plan, which will affect what staff has called a rare type of wetlands

University Station staff PPT re wetlands to SPC Dec. 17 2015In spite of environmental concerns, Planning Commission gives unanimous support to the project planned at University Parkway and Honore Avenue

On Jan. 26, the Sarasota County Commission is expected to decide whether plans for a new Whole Foods and a Wawa at the intersection of University Parkway and Honore Avenue can go forward in spite of a county staff member’s assertion that the project will damage a rare type of wetlands. (Read more »)

Changes to Lido Beach park hours under consideration

Female_loggerhead_sea_turtle_(5967695883)Sarasota city commissioners scale back the recommended closure period to balance concerns over nesting sea turtles with public use of the beach

Lido Beach is becoming an important nesting area for endangered loggerhead sea turtles, Mote Marine has reported. The number of recorded nests on that island rose to 98 last year, compared to just 17 eight years ago, and more and more loggerhead turtles have been drawn to Lido over recent years. (Read more »)

New time restrictions and event-day fees imposed on City of Sarasota’s public parking garages

Palm Avenue garageParking Division’s deficit has run about $2.2 million over the past four years, the City Commission learns

The City of Sarasota has begun charging a flat $5, all-day fee for parking in its public garages during special events that bring high volumes of visitors — and cars —downtown. The expense is one of several measures the city has recently implemented to increase its parking department’s revenue and to better manage turnover of spaces and accessibility in its garages. (Read more »)

Siesta organizations hoping for progress on a plan to create about 300 more Village parking spaces

Lot next to Municipal lot Siesta Village Jan. 5 2016In the works for more than a year, the proposal calls for carving spots out of rights of way as well as private property; in the meantime, more parking at the beach may be the answer

For more than a year, Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) Vice President Mark Smith and a committee comprising members of that group and other island organizations have been working on a plan to carve out about 300 additional Village parking spaces — a highly prized commodity among residents as well as visitors. (Read more »)

Sarasota City Commission approves attainable-housing change for project bordering Laurel Park

Laurel Park Towns 2 SCC Nov. 2015In lieu of attainable units on the site, the developer plans to make a $250,002 contribution to an affordable housing fund

Plans for a townhome project on the edge of Laurel Park moved a step forward this week when the Sarasota City Commission unanimously approved the most significant of several proposed zoning changes: a Comprehensive Plan amendment to remove a site-specific requirement for 12 “attainable housing units” on the property. (Read more »)

Threshold for approval of community waterway projects could be lowered

County Waterways Advisory Council Chair Dec. 9 2015 BCC TVCounty advisory council recommends the change in an effort to improve more area water resources

Between 2003 and 2009, residents in Sarasota County waterfront communities initiated 23 projects involving the dredging of their waterways to maintain navigability. Seven of the projects gained the necessary support of 67 percent of the affected homeowners, as required by county ordinance, so they could proceed. (Read more »)

Siesta Seen

Siesta gazebo and Lobster Pot Dec. 1 2015 RBHVillage Association preparing for annual bevy of events; parking questions arise regarding vendors for the February Craft Show and Siesta Fiesta; the new Chamber executive gets a warm welcome; and Napoli’s handicapped parking space returns

With the start of a new year comes planning for four major events sponsored by the Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA), and that planning is well under way. (Read more »)

County staff report on traffic management system will be discussed during a February board meeting

Commissioner Christine Robinson Oct. 28 2015 RBHCommissioner Christine Robinson says the document does not provide a thorough enough explanation of the system

A comprehensive staff report the Sarasota County commissioners requested in November about the status of the Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) still does not provide all the answers Commissioner Christine Robinson was seeking. She hopes to get that extra clarity when the board holds a discussion of the report — at her request — during a February meeting. (Read more »)

‘Hop on the bus, Gus’

Harriet Cuthbert croppedFirst-time SCAT rider applauds the service

Recently, I had the occasion to use the local public bus service, or SCAT, its official name. I was being held hostage — figuratively, of course — by my car mechanic, who spent four days fixing my vehicle. My only option to retrieve the car was to take the bus home from downtown Sarasota and, eventually, to head back to his shop. (Read more »)

Bishop Spong to speak at Unitarian Church in Sarasota

Bishop Spong Jan. 2016Controversial cleric to address the future of Christianity

Recently named Person of the Year by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Bishop John Shelby Spong will address followers and critics alike when he comes to Sarasota Feb. 12-13 to explain his vision for a “kinder, more gentle, more inclusive” form of Christianity — one that he claims is necessary for the survival of the religion, organizers of the event have announced. (Read more »)

Jan. 11 neighborhood associations meeting to feature MPO discussion

MPO website shot Jan. 6 2016CONA to host immediate past chair of the transportation planning organization

On Monday, Jan.11, the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) will host Jim Bennett, the immediate past chair of the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), for a discussion of the federally mandated regional transportation planning entity, CONA has announced. (Read more »)

Volunteers needed for Mitzvah Day in Sarasota and Manatee counties on Sunday, Feb. 21

Temple Beth Sholom from website Jan. 7 2015The community-wide event will offer hands-on help to local nonprofit organizations

On Feb. 21, the 11 congregations of the Synagogue Council of Sarasota-Manatee, with support from The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee (JFSM), will present the first annual Mitzvah Day, a community-wide initiative designed to assist local non-profit agencies. (Read more »)

Surrey Ride Program returning to The Legacy Trail this month

Legacy Trail surrey rides via scgovSeats available starting Jan. 13 and running through April 14

The Friends of the Legacy Trail (FLT) Surrey Ride Program, which offers an opportunity for mobility-challenged residents and visitors “who would otherwise be unable to share in The Legacy Trail experience,” is returning for another season, Sarasota County has announced. Starting Wednesday, Jan. 13, FLT volunteers will be pedaling the surrey and passengers on free, 45-minute trips that will leave from the Sandra Sims Terry Community Center in Laurel Park in Laurel. (Read more »)

Consortium of regional colleges designed to broaden educational opportunities and promote entrepreneurship

Ringling College of Art and DesignWith financial support from area foundations, C4 is expected to make Sarasota and Manatee counties an educational hub, college leaders say

Thanks to the support of three local foundations, a regional collaboration among colleges will give students broader educational opportunities, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County (CFSC) and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation (GCCF) have announced. (Read more »)

North Port Library to host solar energy program later this month

Solar in sunshine State poster via scgovDiscussion by the county’s Sustainability office staff to focus on the basics for homeowners

People interested in learning more about how to harness the power of solar energy for their homes are encouraged to attend Solar in the Sunshine State: The Basics of Solar Energy for Florida Homeowners on Jan. 20 at the North Port Public Library, Sarasota County has announced. (Read more »)

New Sarasota County welcome center has made its debut

New County Welcome Center via scgovCustomer service desk opens in Administration Center in downtown Sarasota

A new customer service desk officially has opened in the Sarasota County Administration Center, located at 1660 Ringling Blvd. in Sarasota, as part of an effort to better serve the public, the county has announced. (Read more »)