Sunnyside vote marks sunny note in stormy week

A Sarasota County aerial map shows the site where a new three-story building will be added to Sunnyside Village property.

Amid such controversial topics this week as feral hog hunts and transfers of development rights, a rezoning discussion ended with praise from the Sarasota County Commission.

Mark Loveridge, a planner in the county’s Planning Services office, appeared before the commission at the start of the afternoon session on July 11 to present a request for the rezoning of property southwest of the intersection of Honore Avenue and Palmer Boulevard from RSF-2 (Residential, Single Family, 3.5 units per acre) to RMF-2 (Residential, Multi-Family, 9 units per acre).

The Sarasota County Planning Commission already had given its approval to the request, the agenda showed.

The project? The proposed expansion of Sunnyside Village through the construction of 18 independent living units on 2.07 acres.

Loveridge pointed out that Sunnyside Village already has 226 independent living units, a 45-bed assisted living facility and a 60-bed nursing home on about 36 acres. The new structure would be a three-story building with 36 parking spaces.

Loveridge said no stipulations had been recommended with the request.

Additionally, he said, county staff had received no emails or phone calls about the project.

Then Robert Medred, the agent representing Sunnyside Properties of Sarasota Inc., appeared before the commission to expand a bit on Loveridge’s presentation. Among other points, Medred noted that the new building would be adjacent to the other three-story building on the property.

Commissioner Jon Thaxton made the motion to approve the rezoning. Commissioner Joe Barbetta seconded it.

“This is just an outstanding group,” Thaxton said of the founders and owners of Sunnyside Properties.

The staff report provided to the commission shows that Sunnyside is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose board members are all volunteers elected by representatives of the seven Sarasota-area Mennonite churches that support the organization.

Thaxton added that Sunnyside has provided “high-quality housing options for a segment of our population that needs those options.”

“Jon said it well,” Barbetta added.

The motion passed unanimously.

Chairwoman Christine Robinson also praised Medford for always being well-prepared when he makes appearances before the board.