Sarasota News Leader

03/01/2013

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Sarasota News Leader March 1, 2013 It would appear the toll on city staff members would be both psychological and related to their workload. Their ultimate bosses rejected their best efforts, and that would seem to bode poorly for morale. What may be even worse is additional workload on an already diminished planning staff. After the vote was taken, Commissioner Paul Caragiulo ��� who supported Walmart ��� said, ���It���s clear something has to be done about our code. This is absolutely something we need to be working on immediately.��� Page 62 the ���developer end��� of two controversial decisions ��� the Walmart matter and the sale of parkland at the Fruitville/Beneva roads intersection to Benderson Development Co.. The majority of the five challengers for the two at-large City Commission seats are pounding the drum for economic development, which is a code phrase for more physical development of property. Despite Atwell���s vote in favor of the Walmart project, she will find it difficult to shake the failure to lead the commission to approval of the project. Furthermore, all the anti-Walmart voters have already pinned a target on her candidacy. For years the city has toyed with embracing a ���form-based��� code for zoning decisions. Bradenton recently adopted a form-based code, A lot of gas will be vented over the city���s anand Caragiulo suggested that might be a mod- ti-business reputation, too. This is the second el for Sarasota to examine. time Alta Vista has put a figurative torpedo Meanwhile, the city planning staff continues into a major project. The neighbors battled a to get smaller and smaller. Harvey Hogland proposal for adjacent 10-story towers almost will retire at the end of February, following a decade ago, losing the zoning battle but conMike Taylor who retired late last year. Togeth- vincing developer Ron Burks to scale back the er they represent more than a half-century of height of his project. And now another torpeplanning experience in the city. ���Re-coding the do has gone into Walmart���s plans. city��� will require a significant reorientation of Underlying this neighborhood activism is the the planning staff���s priorities, duties and re- need for the city to address this east-fromsponsibilities. downtown expansion that puts the Gardens Plus, of course, Litchet, Schneider and Men- of Ringling Park and Alta Vista in the cross dez must be available for depositions and hairs of development. The creaking code of eventual testimony in court should Walmart ���non-implementing districts��� in the area caussue the city over their approved-appealed-de- es confusion and turmoil. If the city wants to ���re-code,��� there is no better place to begin nied site plan on Ringling Boulevard. than the neighborhoods around Payne Park. There will be political fallout as well, especially for Mayor Atwell. As the only incumbent Full disclosure: Stan Zimmerman is a resirunning for re-election on the March 12 ballot, dent of Alta Vista, and he was the sole vote in she carries the responsibility of explaining all the neighborhood association against filing commission decisions. Now she has been on the Walmart appeal. %

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