Two county commissioners indicate interest in changing notification policy for property owners close to sites of proposed new construction

Detert and Maio talk of potential modifications

Glenn Simpson addresses the County Commission on April 24. News Leader image

A number of times in recent years, Sarasota County residents have complained to the County Commission that they did not receive notification about a proposed project that would have a significant impact on their lives.

For example, the issue arose during public comments about the efforts of Benderson Development Co. to gain commission approval for its Siesta Promenade project. That mixed-use project is planned at the northwest corner of the U.S. 41/Stickney Point Road intersection.

Just last week, a resident of the Winds of St. Armands mobile home park brought up his concerns during a public hearing about a rezoning petition to make possible the development of the Rolling Green Golf Course into a neighborhood with up to 486 homes.

This time, Commissioners Nancy Detert and Alan Maio voiced an interest in having a policy discussion about the notification process. Detert, especially, talked of her belief that a change is county regulations is warranted.

During the April 24 public hearing, Glenn Simpson, who lives in the Winds of St. Armands, told the board members he attended the county Planning Commission public hearing on the golf course redevelopment proposal in March. He had heard, he said, that the new owners of the property “had reached out to the neighborhood.”

“We have 471 homes,” Simpson continued. “No one in [the Winds of St. Armands] was involved in talking to the planning of this project.”

He learned at one point, he indicated, that the project team had reached out to the owner of the mobile home park, and no one with the company was “interested in becoming involved.”

Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office records show the owner as MHC Winds of St. Armands LLC, with an address in Chicago in care of B&D Equity.

Simpson reiterated the number of homes in the park: 471. And they “exit onto North Tuttle.” Yet, he said, the residents of the Winds of St. Armands were “not consulted.”

The golf course is on North Tuttle Avenue; thus, the new development will be, as well.

He could understand MHC’s lack of interest, Simpson continued, but given the number of residents in the park, “I would think that [the project team members] would have reached out [to them]. No one heard about planning meetings.”

An aerial map shows the section of the Winds of St. Armands just east of the Rolling Green Golf Course. Image from Google Maps

After Chair Charles Hines closed the public hearing, Detert said she had questions for staff, adding, “I had this conversation about a week ago with Matt,” referring to Matt Osterhoudt, director of the county’s Planning and Development Services Department. She wanted to alert County Administrator Jonathan Lewis, she pointed out, to her concerns.

As she understood the county’s regulations, Detert continued, people who own property within 750 feet of a proposed project are the ones notified. A project has been planned near her neighborhood in Venice “that I’m not fond of,” she said. “I didn’t get a notification. … The 750 feet — nobody lives there. I would suggest that we call it a mile or something, or within a 1-mile radius.”

Referring to the residents of the Winds of St. Armands, Detert pointed out, “These people are all affected” by the proposal to redevelop the Rolling Green Golf Course.

Assistant County Attorney Joshua Moye responded that staff could look into the policy for notifications.

Past, present and future

Todd Dary answers a question at an August 2018 Neighborhood Workshop. File photo

Then county Planner Todd Dary, who had presented staff’s report on the Rolling Green Golf Course proposal, explained that the existing policy calls for a property owner to be notified of an upcoming public hearing on a project if that person lives within 750 feet of the site inside the county’s Urban Service Boundary. Additionally, any neighborhood association within that radius is to be notified, Dary said. Further, if the project site is near a large community such as Palmer Ranch, for example, Dary told the board that all property owners within 750 feet of the edge of that area of contiguous ownership would be notified.

For projects proposed outside the Urban Service Boundary, he continued, the radius is 1,500 feet.

In her situation, Detert replied, “You have nobody except a couple of industrial parking lots” within that 750-foot radius in Venice.

“I’m frankly not surprised [by Simpson’s remarks],” Detert continued. “I’d like to see staff do something about that.” She added that she hoped her fellow commissioners would support her in that endeavor, “because we’re not contacting people that are affected.”

“This is … a policy ordinance change,” Chair Hines told her, suggesting she bring up the issue again under her board report during the next regular commission meeting. (That is scheduled for May 7 in Venice at the R.L. Anderson Administration Center.)

If the majority of the commissioners are supportive of her proposal, Hines indicated, the board could direct staff to research the potential of enlarging the notification area. “That would be the proper way to do it,” Hines said, instead of continuing to discuss county policy during the public hearing that day.

“OK,” Detert responded.

Commissioner Alan Maio did interject a couple of other comments on the topic after Hines made his suggestion.

Maio said he believed the notification requirement had been changed a number of times in the past. One factor that has remained constant, he added, is the necessity of notifying homeowner associations in the affected areas.

However, with the Winds of St. Armands, Maio continued, “They’re all renters … The company got notification, and so these people didn’t.”

He added, “If we look into fixing this thing … we might want to figure out a solution to that.”