Sarasota News Leader

06/21/2013

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STILL HAUNTED BY THE MOU Rubble remains after the old Sarasota Police Department headquarters was torn down in the spring of 2012. Photo by Norman Schimmel COUNTY COMMISSIONERS PRESS CITY LEADERS TO GET 'AIR RIGHTS' SQUARED AWAY OVER A DOWNTOWN PARCEL EYED BY A DEVELOPER AS THE SITE OF A NEW HOTEL By Stan Zimmerman City Editor One month shy of 10 years ago, Sarasota County Government held a figurative gun to the head of the Sarasota City Commission and made its members sign an agreement. This was a matter of "Sign, or the county seat is moving to the interstate." The county wanted the land under the old city police station to build a new court complex. The city subsequently floated a bond issue to build a new police headquarters only 100 feet away. The old HQ was then torn down; today it is a vacant lot. To provide a little political cover in 2003, then-County Administrator Jim Ley tossed a few crumbs to the city. At the time they seemed meaningless, including "air rights" over an 80-odd-space parking lot north of Does the city have air rights or the historic courthouse downtown. not? … Time is of the essence. Joe Barbetta Commissioner Sarasota County Now a developer wants to build a hotel on the property, and

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