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Sarasota News Leader May 31, 2013 OPINION Katherine Baumann of Lake Orion, MI — petitioned the County Commission to vacate the right of way, since the county was not maintaining it. The request made a lot of sense. The Baumanns' house, at 601 Avenida de Mayo, has more than 5,600 square feet of building area shoehorned into a postage stamp-sized lot of only 7,110 square feet. Their view to the north was their tiny portion of a canal. To the east, only a few feet away, was the wall of their neighbor's house. But to the west was an expansive swath of undeveloped land 60 feet wide — 20 percent wider than their own lot. If only that property were theirs, their lot would more than double in size. So they hired an agent and an attorney to petition the county for the abandonment of the right of way to them … an innocuous way of asking the land be given as a gift. During a meeting of the County Commission on May 21, Commissioners Charles Hines and Joe Barbetta, joined one hopes reluctantly by Commission Chairwoman Carolyn Mason, voted to give the right of way to the Baumanns. The only concession by the Baumanns was the preservation of existing easements for utilities. With a simple voice vote, the County Commission increased the Baumanns' tiny lot from 7,110 square feet to more than 15,000 square feet … for free. Page 62 This was an abysmal stewardship by the County Commission of the people's assets for several reasons. First, as pointed out by Commissioner Christine Robinson, the county's comprehensive plan stipulates that "the County shall not vacate road segments on waterfronts along any creek, river, lake, bay or gulf access point and shall encourage right-of-way use of these areas for coastal beach and bay access." Regardless of the county's neglect of this parcel, it represented a significant water access point for the public. Once identified, it should have been developed to a minimum standard to serve that purpose. Particularly on Siesta Key, with its miles and miles of waterfront, public access points are proportionately scarce. Barbetta used the rather fatuous argument that the platting of the right of way preceded the comprehensive plan; therefore, the comprehensive plan did not apply. We feel certain there are many other landowners who found themselves bound by the enactment of the comprehensive plan back in the 1970s who would have been delighted to exempt themselves because the land was there before the plan. Of course, that is not the way land-use planning works: The preparation and passage of a comprehensive plan is a means to bring order out of chaos, to protect all landowners from the deleterious effects of pell-mell over-

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