20170303-3 Mar 2017

Bills in the legislature raise alarm with Sarasota County School Board members over future of 1-mill voted tax

Proposed new law would necessitate the district’s move of its referendum from March to November general election ballot

Sarasota County School Board members have expressed alarm over bills filed in the Florida Legislature this year that they say could threaten the funding the district receives through its voter-approved 1-mill tax. House Bill 139 and its companion legislation, Senate Bill 278, originally called for local government discretionary sales surtax referenda to be held on the dates of general elections. (Read more »)

Rezoning petition for property near Celery Fields continued until April 26 while agent for the applicant works to resolve ownership disclosure issues

County commissioners point to applicant’s failure to comply with provisions of the County Charter

It all came down to a matter of names — or, rather, a lack thereof. By unanimous vote on March 1, the Sarasota County Commission continued until the afternoon of April 26 a public hearing on a petition to rezone 6.9 acres the county owns on the northwest corner of Palmer Boulevard and Apex Road. (Read more »)

Investment group moving forward with proposed zoning amendment to allow freestanding multi-family units in mixed-use developments

Unlike proposal linked to Cassia Cay last year, latest version has no tie to a specific development, owners’ representative says

A proposal to allow freestanding multi-family residential units in mixed-use developments in Sarasota County districts zoned Commercial General that was pulled from the County Commission’s final agenda of 2016 resurfaced this week. (Read more »)

New owner Benderson Development plans to renovate Landings Shopping Center

Company also in talks with new tenants to fill the voids

Before the 2017-18 tourism season arrives, The Landings Shopping Center — which has a new owner — is expected also to have a refreshed look and a number of new tenants. Through a foreclosure auction on Jan. 24, Benderson Development Co. — which owns and manages more than 700 properties nationally — purchased the 584,465-square-foot property that has been plagued by vacancies in recent years. (Read more »)

Siesta Key open-air trolley service to begin on March 20

Island business owners applaud county staff’s efforts to launch the type of service they long have sought

Perhaps no one on Siesta Key has been a more ardent supporter of an open-air trolley for visitors than Russell Matthes, co-owner of the Daiquiri Deck restaurants. On Feb. 28, shortly after the Sarasota County Commission approved a pilot program for such a service, Matthes told The Sarasota News Leader, “We’re definitely excited about it.” (Read more »)

County Commission chair votes against letter of intent with Braves, voicing worries about lack of specificity regarding public access to facilities

On 4-1 vote, effort to bring Braves to South County for Spring Training moves forward, nonetheless

Sarasota County Commission Chair Paul Caragiulo this week declined to approve a letter of intent with the Atlanta Braves as the next step in a process designed to lead to the team’s moving Spring Training operations to a new South County complex in 2019. (Read more »)

County’s land development and zoning regulations to be updated and combined into single document planned to be user-friendly

Commission awards contract to Fort Lauderdale firm, with goal of seeing the work completed in 18 months

Months ago, Sarasota County Commissioner Alan Maio began mentioning that it was coming. On Feb. 28, staff won unanimous board approval to make it a reality. (Read more »)

Ferry operator will have up to six months to finalize arrangements for service between city of Sarasota and Bradenton Beach

His next step, Capt. Sherman Baldwin tells the County Commission, is a Venice leg

Although the captain said he wished he could launch the service “in 48 hours,” the Sarasota City Commission has given TevaTan LLC — which does business as Paradise Boat Tours — six months to begin a 125-passenger ferry run between Sarasota and the Bridge Street Pier in Bradenton Beach. (Read more »)

Siesta Seen

A parking management company has begun staffing Davidson Plaza; Chamber initiates its quarterly meeting schedule; Daiquiri Deck co-owner dispels a rumor; wastewater treatment plant project remains on schedule, with a traffic provided for South View Drive; county administrator offers update on North Beach Road; Easter Egg Hunt plans announced; ‘We’re No. 1’ again; and SKA directors discuss their Environmental Defense Fund

A Sarasota firm has begun managing the Davidson Plaza parking lot, charging drivers $3.50 per hour unless they are dining in one of the restaurants or otherwise using services in the plaza. FL Parking Co. been contacting private property owners on Siesta Key about managing parking spaces at businesses that close after 5 p.m., Mark Smith of Smith Architects, chair of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, told about 25 people during the Chamber’s first quarterly meeting. (Read more »)

Osterhoudt formally named director of Planning and Development Services for Sarasota County

Jonathan Lewis confirmed as assistant county administrator

He finally gets to remove “interim” from his title: County Administrator Tom Harmer has appointed Matt Osterhoudt as the new director of the county’s Planning and Development Services (PDS) Department, effective March 6. (Read more »)

Serendipity comes in multiple hues

A change of plan leads to an uncommon find

When I wake up in the morning, my first thought is, “Where shall I go today?” I have walked Florida since coming here at age 9. Often I will be driving somewhere when suddenly I am led to stop to photograph something along the roadside or take a walk in a park. (Read more »)

Early voting for March 14 municipal elections to begin on Monday, March 6

Voters may cast ballots in downtown Sarasota, in North Port and on Longboat Key

Early voting for the March 14 municipal elections will begin on Monday, March 6, and continue through Saturday, March 11, Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections Ron Turner announced March 2. (Read more »)

Crime down 6.9% in city of Sarasota during 2016

Since late 2012, overall crime has dropped nearly 25%

Overall crime for 2016 was down 6.9% in the city of Sarasota, Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino recently reported to city staff. (Read more »)

Sarasota County Libraries Department hosting ‘Voice of the Customer’ survey

Responses due by March 5

Sarasota County’s Libraries and Historical Resources Department has begun conducting a customer survey, the department has announced. Dubbed Voice of the Customer, the survey is designed to help county staff understand how better to serve the public. (Read more »)

10th Street boat dock improvements underway

Centennial park boat ramp remains open

Improvements to the City of Sarasota’s boat docks at the 10th Street boat ramp, located in Centennial Park, have begun, the city announced this week. (Read more »)