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Sarasota News Leader June 14, 2013 OPINION Page 67 developers will be able to fudge their compliance with density requirements by buying "rights" from pristine lands that never were planned for development. The question then becomes, "How much should we charge developers for these TDRs?" by suggesting instead that the first 100 TDRs be offered for sale at one-fourth the price recommended by staff. Although it was immediately pointed out that such a price would not even cover the county's acquisition costs for the lands in question, Barbetta, joined by fellow developer advocate Charles Hines, was The county staff recommended a price that adamant. was 10 percent of the median home price in Sarasota County. The ESLOC countered that So the first unfortunate precedent was the nothe price should be 10 percent of the median tion that undeveloped lands, especially counnew home price in the county, arguing that ty-owned environmentally sensitive lands, lumping the sale of distressed properties and should somehow be considered to have deforeclosures in with home sales more compa- velopment "rights" that could be transferred rable with new development skewed the value to a development elsewhere in the county. of the TDR too low. Regardless of which base The second unfortunate precedent was the price proposal was used, an arbitrary value arbitrary assignment of a value on TDRs — was placed on TDRs. whether 10 percent of the median sale price Slow-growth advocates rejected this notion, of all homes or 10 percent of the median sale pointing out that the marketplace should de- price of new homes — rather than allowing termine what these TDRs are worth. If devel- demand by developers for these rights to set opers truly are interested in enhancing their a competitive price. projects and TDRs would provide the mech- But the precedent set by Barbetta's reckless anism whereby they could create additional "fire sale" pricing for the first 100 TDRs is a density, then a healthy competition for those fearful one indeed. And we are not comforted TDRs would assure the county of receiving an by the higher staff-recommended asking price optimal value for those rights. for the remainder of the TDRs in the pilot proThat, of course, would put the burden on developers to actually make offers for those TDRs, potentially bidding up the price. To the pro-development faction on the County Commission, this would not do. It made more sense to entice developers to avail themselves of these TDRs by offering them at bargain-basement prices. gram, since Barbetta added the caveat, "We'll consider any offers." It appears that the "development express" had not expired at all; it was only dormant. And now, with Barbetta's coddling, it soon will roar to life. Unfortunately, it ultimately will steamroll the county's comprehensive plan, the county's investment in its Environmentally Commissioner Joe Barbetta figuratively tossed Sensitive Lands Program and the pocketbooks the staff's recommendation into the dustbin of every taxpayer in Sarasota County. %

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