20160318-18 Mar 2016

Benderson family contributed close to $6 million to get Finish Tower construction underway

County administrator gives Siesta Key audience an update on Benderson Park projects in preparation for the 2017 World Rowing Championships

The family of the late developer Nathan Benderson — for whom Sarasota County’s Benderson Park is named — has contributed “almost $6 million” for the construction of the Finish Tower the park needs to host the 2017 World Rowing Championships, County Administrator Tom Harmer announced during a March 5 meeting on Siesta Key. (Read more »)

City commissioners to discuss bayfront district planning committee

On March 21, the board also is scheduled to consider special events guidelines — a discussion that could decide the fate of Thunder By the Bay

A bayfront cultural district — like Rome — would not be built overnight, and the planning in Sarasota has only just begun. A new independent group will soon begin formal work with the goal of creating such a district. During the Monday, March 21, Sarasota City Commission meeting, the topic will be at the center of a discussion as the commissioners consider the makeup of that group. (Read more »)

County Commission gives Benderson Development offshoot more time on Fruitville Initiative property

Contract amendments call for initial construction to be completed no later than March 2019

On Oct. 28, 2015, the Sarasota County Commission unanimously denied a rezoning request by Benderson Development Co., so a limited liability company members of the firm had organized could modify its design for a light industrial manufacturing and mixed-use project on almost 42 acres next to the Fruitville Library and the Celery Fields bird-watching preserve in Sarasota. (Read more »)

Der Dutchman hotel project in Pinecraft delayed by effort to include another parcel in the site plan

The general manager of Der Dutchman Restaurant says he still hopes to see construction underway by late summer

The acquisition of another parcel for a proposed hotel project next to the Der Dutchman Restaurant in Pinecraft has delayed the start of necessary rezoning initiatives, The Sarasota News Leader has learned. (Read more »)

Adopting new impact fees at the full justifiable level would put Sarasota County in third place on a list with eight comparable counties

New single-family housing fees for range of services expected to increase expense of a 2,000-square-foot home by $1,400

Adding up all of the current impact fees for services except those for roads and schools makes Sarasota County’s total second-highest on a list showing eight comparison counties, with only Collier charging more, the Sarasota County Commission has learned. (Read more »)

Couple file in 12th Circuit Court to overturn Sarasota County’s denial of their proposal to build a dock on vacant Siesta Key Circle property

County decision focused on inadequate room for two parking spaces, as required by zoning regulations, but Erika and Achim Ginsberg-Klemmt cite violation of state law and record-keeping standards as the basis for their action

A Sarasota couple who lost an appeal late last year in an effort to build a dock on vacant property they own on Siesta Key has petitioned the 12th Judicial Circuit to review the decision and reject the denial. (Read more »)

Tweak in Tourist Development Tax ordinance puts beach renourishment practice into policy

Cities in emergency situations still can ask for extra funding from a specific account, but county projects will take precedence

With a policy change, the Sarasota County Commission has made it clear that municipalities still can ask for additional beach renourishment funds in “extenuating and unusual circumstances not reasonably foreseeable,” but county projects will take precedence over those in the cities. (Read more »)

Siesta Seen

County Commission chair handles questions on a broad array of topics at the SKA annual meeting — from restrooms to restricting Siesta development; the county formally gets an extension on closing the Siesta wastewater treatment plant; and March 23 is the date for the Atkins peer review discussion by the county board

No restrooms by the “wedding pavilion” at Siesta Public Beach; parking lot problems at Turtle Beach; and rampant development in downtown Sarasota: Questions about myriad topics were those Sarasota County Commission Chair Al Maio and County Administrator Tom Harmer fielded on March 5 after they made formal remarks during the Annual Breakfast Meeting of the Siesta Key Association. (Read more »)

Tourism numbers, revenue continue climb; Visit Sarasota County partnering with All Faiths Food Bank for National Tourism Week celebration

January saw a 5.2-percent increase in visitors, with first quarter of the fiscal year showing 27 percent of tourists reporting their first trip to Sarasota County

“We are certainly at the peak of the high season!” is how Virginia Haley, president of Visit Sarasota County, put it in a March 14 email to the Sarasota County Commission. (Read more »)

County Commission hits roadblock as it looks to set pricing for transferable development rights

Staff will investigate bond counsel’s advice about how funds from selling county-owned TDRs can be used

The goal of one recent Sarasota County Commission discussion, as noted on the agenda, was for the board to establish a standard price and other terms for the sale of county transferable development rights (TDRs), which are a key element of the county’s 2050 Plan for new housing east of Interstate 75. (Read more »)

For third consecutive year, Sarasota County honored as Healthy Weight Community Champion

County’s Health Officer points to numerous county policies that have contributed to the recognition

During the March 8 County Commission meeting in Venice, Chuck Henry, the Health Officer of the Department of Health in Sarasota County, congratulated the County Commission for the achievement, pointing out that of the 410 cities, towns and villages and the 67 counties in the state of Florida, only 80 were accorded the honor this year. (Read more »)

Choreographer’s personal grief translates into engaging production

Advanced Beginner Group combines dance and theater to convey feelings about death and hurricanes

The stage was cluttered. A large chandelier made of plastic bags hung over the far corner; there was a homemade floor lamp near the front edge of the stage; a video screen flickered in the background; and there was a set of drums practically hidden in a corner near shelves of old vinyl records. (Read more »)

Artspace affordable housing initiative supporters to host fundraising event

Session with speakers from Chicago and Florida will be held on March 21 at the historic Crocker Church in Sarasota

“Remember all that buzz two years ago about affordable housing for artists in Sarasota?” a news release asks. “The program is entering a new phase that will include your participation,” it points out. (Read more »)

Asolo Rep Theatre Guild Play Readers to bring author MacDonald’s works to life at county libraries

Events are part of One Book, One Community program; first performance set for March 17 in Sarasota

As part of Sarasota County’s ongoing One Book, One Community celebration, the Asolo Repertory Theatre Guild Play Readers will perform theatrical readings of excerpts from this year’s featured author, John D. MacDonald, at several county libraries, the county has announced. (Read more »)

SMH to celebrate spring with its first SpringFit 5K and Kids Fun Run

Events will be followed by an Easter Egg Hunt outside HealthFit

Runners and walkers of all ages are encouraged to lace up their shoes and put healthy springs in their steps during Sarasota Memorial HealthFit’s inaugural 5K and Kids Fun Run on Saturday, March 26, Sarasota Memorial HealthFit has announced. (Read more »)

With the weather warming up, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office issuing reminders about boater safety

Tips offered to help people have good experiences on the water

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office is reminding residents and visitors to obey all laws while on the water during Spring Break. The office also has issued a press release offering tips to improve safety on the water. (Read more »)

U.S. Masters Swimming announces new CEO will start work March 28

Dawson Hughes had been vice president of the Orange Bowl Committee

The U.S. Masters Swimming (USMS) Board of Directors has selected Dawson Hughes to be its new CEO, the organization has announced. (Read more »)

SCAT, MCAT drivers show skills in Bus ‘Roadeo’ held on March 13

Winners headed to Fort Myers event in April

Bus drivers from Sarasota and Manatee counties went head-to-head on Sunday morning, March 13, “flashing their skills and maneuvering through an obstacle course at the first Bus ‘Roadeo’ hosted at the Manatee County Public Works compound in Bradenton,” Sarasota County announced in a news release. (Read more »)