20170310-10 Mar 2017

Siesta Key Association files complaint in 12th Judicial Circuit Court to prevent dredging of Big Pass

Just three days earlier, city manager provided City Commission details of emergency efforts for Lido Key’s beach

The Siesta Key Association (SKA) filed a complaint in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court on March 9 in an effort to stop the dredging of Big Sarasota Pass to renourish South Lido Key Beach. The action came 50 days after the nonprofit notified the City of Sarasota, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) that it would take that step if the parties could not come to a resolution of the SKA’s allegations that the city is not adhering to the county’s Comprehensive Plan or the city’s Comprehensive Plan in the proposal to remove about 1.2 million cubic yards of sand from the pass without first obtaining county approval. (Read more »)

Hyde’s latest campaign finance report shows him with more than three times as much money as Brody, who has the second-highest total

Jen Ahearn-Koch and Patrick Gannon right behind those two in terms of total contributions through Feb. 24

As early voting began this week for two at-large seats on the Sarasota City Commission, the latest financial reports the eight candidates have filed show businessman Martin Hyde with $56,134.74 — well outpacing the other seven people in the race. (Read more »)

Public Service Tax levy identified as one potential means of raising county revenue for high priority capital projects

Florida Statutes give charter counties the ability to levy the tax on utility payments; City of Sarasota charges its customers the full amount

As the Sarasota County Commission works with staff to explore every possible means of paying for its highest priority capital projects, the county’s deputy administrator has broached one idea that is in use in a number of charter counties and cities. It is called a Public Service Tax. (Read more »)

Suggestion for a separate county mixed-use development zoning district piques county board members’ interest

Commissioners Maio and Hines talk of potential for affordable housing to revitalize strip centers and malls

A speaker’s suggestion during a public hearing has prompted Sarasota County commissioners to suggest that a new county zoning district should be explored just for mixed-use developments. (Read more »)

City Commission agrees to pursue state conflict resolution process over county’s refusal to provide a 30th payment into the Downtown CRA Trust Fund

If no resolution results from meetings of staffs or the two boards, the issue will end up in court

The Sarasota city commissioners were “having none of it,” as the saying goes. The focus was an alternative conflict resolution process recommended by Sarasota County staff regarding the city’s assertion that the county owes a final payment into the Downtown Sarasota Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) Trust Fund. (Read more »)

City Commission approves change in land use classification from commercial to multi-residential for 4.5-acre site on Beneva Road near Fruitville intersection

Rezoning and site plan would have to undergo public hearings before a project for the property could be approved

He had had no contact about concerns raised since Feb. 21, the agent for Tenth Way Corp. told the Sarasota City Commission this week. Therefore, Donald Neu added, he was surprised to learn that residents had requested the board conduct a second reading that night instead of that afternoon on the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment he was seeking. (Read more »)

City staff receives commission direction to focus on office areas as the primary zoning districts for medical marijuana treatment centers

Goal is to allow dispensaries to open in July, as the City Commission planned when it passed a nine-month moratorium in October 2016

With the consensus of the Sarasota City Commission this week, city staff will continue working on new zoning regulations that would be applied to medical marijuana treatment centers. However, at the suggestion of City Attorney Robert Fournier, the board will await action of the Florida Legislature regarding regulatory measures related to the passage of Florida Amendment 2 in November 2016 before deciding how to proceed on that aspect of the legalization of medical marijuana. (Read more »)

New SKA President Harold Ashby talks of plans to expand the organization’s membership

Annual breakfast meeting draws capacity crowd

Members welcomed a new president during the 2017 Annual Breakfast Meeting of the Siesta Key Association (SKA). Harold Ashby, who joined the board in early 2016, accepted the gavel from Vice President Catherine Luckner during the March 4 event, which was held at St. Boniface Episcopal Church. (Read more »)

Siesta Seen

Update offered on the proposed hotel Comprehensive Plan amendment; low-speed rental vehicles prompt Chamber discussion; mention of ‘sharrows’ leads to a wee bit of confusion; Cosentino apologizes to county commissioners; south Siesta parking issues aired at commission meeting; and long-time Chamber members will launch a new book

A proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment that would allow hotels to be built on parcels zoned Commercial General on Siesta Key has not been submitted yet to Sarasota County planning staff, county spokesman Drew Winchester told The Sarasota News Leader this week. (Read more »)

City Commission approves state grant funding for consultant to undertake signal re-timing project

Staff’s goal is to have the consultant to undertake traffic analysis during peak tourist season this year

With Sarasota City Commission approval this week of a $408,968.55 contract for traffic signal re-timing, staff wants the consultant to begin its analysis during the peak of tourist season, Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown told the board on March 6. (Read more »)

Divide and conquer: FDEP’s flawed approach to public hearings does not serve the public

More than 250 people showed up at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (FDEP) public hearing last week in Sarasota to comment on plans to revamp Myakka River State Park’s management plan. Florida park management plans are revisited every 10 years, and the law requires public input on them. There was little of that at the hearing. (Read more »)

‘The taxman cometh’ — serving up anxiety for many of us

At least the free service at the county’s libraries can ease some of the pain

Let’s face it: Most of us are in dread when it comes to doing taxes. I have been trying to figure out what we are most afraid of, and I think it is the fear of making a mistake, being caught massaging the numbers in our favor and winding up in debtor’s prison — for life. (Read more »)

Solar co-op to be focus of CONA meeting on March 13

Representatives of the Florida House to provide information

On Monday, March 13, the public is invited to join members of the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) for a discussion about the solar co-op that is being organized in Sarasota and Manatee counties. (Read more »)

Extension of Sarasota MURT from Bird Key Drive to the east side of Coon Key Bridge underway

Median at Bird Key also to be improved; no traffic lanes to be closed during work

Work began Monday, March 6, on what Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin has called “a much anticipated improvement project connecting Marina Jack to Coon Key.” The Multi-Use Recreational Trail (MURT) will be extended on the south side of John Ringling Boulevard from Bird Key Drive to the east side of the Coon Key Bridge, Barwin announced in his March 3 newsletter. (Read more »)

NEST to host ‘living shorelines’ open house

County event to be held on March 11 at the Venice Gardens Community Association

Members of the public are invited to join the Sarasota County Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team (NEST) as it presents the concept of a “living shoreline” at an open house on Saturday, March 11, the county has announced. (Read more »)

Political director of Florida ACLU to discuss ‘How to Win Friends and Influence Legislators’

Sarasota Chapter of ACLU to hold annual meeting on March 25

The Annual meeting and election of the Sarasota Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida will feature a talk by Kirk Bailey, newly appointed political director of the Florida ACLU, the chapter has announced. (Read more »)

Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner offering tips to ensure smooth Election Day

Early voting underway for Sarasota and North Port commission seats and for the Longboat Key Town Board

On March 14, registered voters in the cities of Sarasota and North Port and the Town of Longboat Key will be electing local commissioners and, in the case of Longboat Key, deciding two ballot questions, the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Office is reminding the public. (Read more »)

Two men charged with attempted murder in connection with incident in Pinecraft church parking lot

Victim allegedly was run over by a truck and then beaten with a wooden stick

The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office has charged two Sarasota men with attempted murder in connection with an incident that occurred early on the morning of March 7 in the Amish and Mennonite community of Pinecraft, the office has announced. (Read more »)

Sarasota ranked best place to live in Florida

City lands at No. 21 on U.S. News & World Report list for the U.S.

Sarasota has landed at No. 21 on the list of U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 Best Places to Live in the United States, and it beat out every other Florida city in the top 25. (Read more »)