Sarasota News Leader

11/02/2012

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TOO CHARMING Laurel Park is known for its 1920s-era bungalows. Photo by Norman Schimmel ANALYSIS: LAUREL PARK FIGHTS FOR A PLACE IN THE SUN By Stan Zimmerman City Editor Laurel Park is everything you could ask for in a neighborhood. Geographically, it lies on the southern edge of downtown; all the urban amenities are within walking distance. It features the city's best collection of 1920s architecture — from bungalows to apartment buildings. And it is close to all the city's major traffic arteries. The residents of Laurel Park have battled for years to keep their "patch of paradise" out of the hands of speculators and high-rise build- ers. They even had the city create a unique zoning district (RSM-9) for the area. That dis- trict does not allow for commercial activity, even though the neighborhood already had a historic designation to protect its character. Laurel Park shares another unique quality with two other close-to-downtown neighbor- hoods: Any new structure built within 100 feet of an RSM-9 property can be only one story higher than what it faces. Now Laurel Park is seeking something else unique, and as with its other battles, the prog- ress is uphill all the way. ADMINISTRATIVE APPROVAL The neighborhood wants "an overlay," a zon- ing device that allows for special treatment.

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