Sarasota News Leader

04/19/2013

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Sarasota News Leader April 19, 2013 Page 22 But City Attorney Bob Fournier said at Monday's meeting the ballots went to the correct addresses, and none of the actual ballots was marked "return to sender." The new ordinance uses traffic safety as its thrust. The commissioners passed it unanimously on a first reading. It is scheduled to go before the commission again on Tuesday, Rappaport and district supporters are now April 23, during a special meeting before the trying to determine whether a second election commission begins a budget workshop. can be held, and, if so, how. The recent vote The ordinance could go into effect before May means the district will go out of business on 1. Sept. 30, even though an audit indicates it will still owe $150,000 to the city on a line of credit DOWNTOWN HOTEL PLANS to Bank of America. PUSHED BACK In other business matters, the City Commission voted to bump up the old occupational license fee — now called the business tax — by 5 percent. Fournier was busy Monday, explaining why a lingering lawsuit will delay the development of a new downtown hotel by as much as a year. Construction was supposed to start early "If you want economic development, increas- next year. ing taxes on business is no way to get it," said "My best guess, it would take a year or two City Commissioner Terry Turner. He and Com- to solve these problems because of the Buck/ missioner Shannon Staub voted against the Leiter lawsuit," said Fournier. The Leiter tax hike, but it passed 3-2. Group/John Buck Co. wanted to build a hotel with retail area and a 400-space parking lot on GROUNDING 'SIGN FLIERS' Palm Avenue near Main Street. But the deal "When there's no enforcement, word does get fell through July 17, 2008 on a 3-2 vote by the around," said Fournier, talking about the re- City Commission. It was the fifth attempt to vocation of an ordinance in January banning put together a public-private partnership on panhandling from city roadways. Suddenly, the city-owned land. "flying a sign" in the median became a "cash cow" for Sarasota's homeless and vagrants. The deal collapsed as the economy began to founder. The developers filed a suit in court The commissioners approved a new ordinance Monday, making panhandling illegal again, but that effectively has tied up the city's use or this time using language Fournier thinks will transfer of the property. pass court scrutiny. The old ordinance, he Meanwhile, a new developer, Angus Rogers, feared, was constitutionally indefensible on has reached a deal to erect a Floridays hoFirst Amendment grounds. tel at the intersection of Cocoanut and Palm "Writing it was a challenge," he said of the avenues. He has signed a "purchase and sale new law. "Asking for money or begging is ex- agreement" with the city, and both entities are pressive conduct and protected by the First under a deadline to sign two additional agreements on parking and redevelopment. Amendment."

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