Sarasota News Leader

09/21/12

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Sarasota News Leader WHAT'S COMPATIBLE? Morton Siegel, chairman of the Planning Board, is a land-use attorney with a nation- al practice volunteering his time and ex- pertise. "I've read this comprehensive plan many times, and we don't follow it," he said. "We do what's expedient. Developers want to do what they can do. Residents will op- pose them." In that capsule comment, he captured a half-century of Florida land-use controver- sy: Them versus us. Thus ensued a lot of blather. Siegel then opened the meeting to public comment. Three neighborhood veterans from three different neighborhoods came forward. Fundamentally, they said – in different ways – one size doesn't fit all. Barbara Campo lives downtown. Her issue was notification, because downtown con- dominium associations do not always noti- fy their residents of pending development in their area. "There is a breakdown," she said. "Condominium associations may get the information, but residents may not. You should assure the neighborhoods will pro- tect the concept of compatibility by allowing first-hand input from neighborhoods when new development is being considered." Kate Lowman lives near downtown in Lau- rel Park, an enclave of 1920s bungalows and duplexes surrounded by later develop- ment. It's a historic district threatened by mega-development in the boom times. "Peo- ple would like to know what's being built very near them," she said. "I hope you can September 21, 2012 Page 15 allow time for people to come and speak to these changes you are considering." The bell-ringer was Pat Kology. She's a res- ident of the Alta Vista neighborhood, a long walk from downtown. "I feel it is important to talk about maximizing compatibility by respecting the very fabric of surrounding neighborhoods," she said. "Laurel Park is very different than my Alta Vista. What's compatible in one part of town may not be compatible in another. One more 10-story building downtown would not be incompat- ible, but it would be in my neighborhood." Planning Board member Vlad Svekis asked how the matter would be applied. "The issue of compatibility is in everybody's thoughts," he said. "On Bayshore Road, I see a $2.5 million house across the street from a $250,000 house. Is it compatible? I do not know how to define it." AND PREDICTABILITY? "Developers always want predictability," said Planning Board member Susan Chap- man. "I'd like to see something in here about predictability for the neighborhoods, so both parties have predictable outcomes." Board member Chris Gallagher said the two sides have different goals for predict- ability: "For developers, it's predictability on process. For the neighborhoods, it's pre- dictability of the end result." Chapman then spoke of a time several years ago. "The neighborhoods wanted predictability, but there were many people buying land with the assumption it would get up-zoned, have a comprehensive plan amendment [approved], that compatibility

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