Highlights of April 17, 2023 Sarasota City Commission Meeting
Despite citizen-requests to rescind the city commission's override of the planning board's recommendation at the last meeting, the Bay Park Conservancy made no move to roll-back the provisions for administrative approval and possible housing in the Bay Park zone, and both measures - which uniquely cut citizens out of the planning process for a public park being developed with public funds - passed without alteration on second reading. Bond to support $50 million Bay Park Phase 2 approved. Once interest is factored in, this will utilize approximately $90 million of the $150-$200 million Tax Incentive Financing fund to build the park.
During public comment, Rosemary resident Jim Lampl mentioned downtown neighbor concerns about the Obsidian, a proposed 346 foot tall tower on a half acre at the corner of Palm and Fruitville currently going through development review. The scale is not in keeping with the surroundings or intent of the City Plan. Commissioner Ahearn-Koch mentioned in ZTA discussions that heights used to be capped in total feet, and suggested revisiting those limits. Commissioner Trice supported that, and reiterated her concern about mass and context in explaining why she voted against the interstitial ZTA (she would have preferred firmer limits in feet). Asked for a workshop to strategize on ways to limit massive buildings.
An unpaved 6000 square foot greenspace in a flood prone area of Indian Beach (Marlin street) was vacated. The neighborhood association hired counsel, provided a storm water engineer’s analysis, and had a petition signed by over a quarter of the 700 neighboring homes. Commissioner Trice raised concerns about development plans if vacated, and she and Commissioner Ahearn-Koch both voted against the vacation. The motion to vacate carried 3-2.
Commissioner Arroyo presented an alley beautification initiative involving undergrounding trash receptacles, public art, and plantings. The other commissioners were receptive, but brought up concerns about cost, conflicts with delivery purposes of alleys, and possible public safety concerns for narrow passages. Staff recommended piloting with an alley on Main Street or possibly State Street.