Highlights of July 3, 2023 Sarasota City Commission Meeting
CITY PLAN & CONTEXT
The recent Development Review Committee meeting left open the question of whether or not the Obsidian, the 342-foot ultra luxury skyscraper, would be rejected by city staff for its failure to conform with the city’s master plan and zoning code. It is unclear when the city will render its decision on this project. Speaking during public comment on behalf of CCNA, DSCA, and over 3,500 residents who had signed a petition against the oversized design, neighbors asked the city officials to protect the city plan and uphold the zoning standards to promote a walkable, livable, welcoming Sarasota.
As explained by WSLR’s Crtical Times, the city’s planning board plays a key role in providing expert advice to the city commission. For the board to function smoothly, it is important it have a full complement of 5 voting members who can objectively vet the project. Commissioner Ahearn-Koch spoke highly of Douglas Christy’s dedication and service as an alternate on the board, and nominated him for a full-time voting seat. After discussion, the consensus of the commission was that it would be best to avoid filling the dias seat at this time with someone who would have to recuse himself from hearing One Park. Vice Mayor Alpert nominated attorney Dan DeLeo and Commissioner Arroyo nominated architect Shane Lamay to serve three-year terms on the board. Both nominations carried unanimously. CityPAC thanks all the citizen volunteers for their public service for the common good, and thanks the city commission for listening.
QUALITY OF LIFE
The city has been hosting workshops on parklets (curbside dining), and concerns about cost, parking, retail impact, public safety, and cleanliness have been raised. A series of workshops have also been held on bars and nightclub zoning text changes. Residents have consistently raised concerns about sound as it relates to bars, and recommended to the city that the bar ZTA be considered alongside sound regulation. However, a recent state pre-emption which went into effect July 1 necessitates the city clarify its definitions to separate the type of liquor license from the type of use with regard to a restaurant which holds a liquor license, so this change will be considered at the next city commission meeting.
LIVE LOCAL ACT - SPECIAL MEETING JULY 10
Whether it is a nothing-burger or Armageddon for Sarasota could come down to deciding whether “mixed use” (a term not defined in the new state pre-emption act) refers to soil (land use) or structure (individual building). This Live Local briefing from the Florida League of Cities raises lots of questions about the implications in terms of height and density for Main Street, Ringling Boulevard, St. Armands, Southside Village, and the neighborhoods along 41, Fruitville, and 301. CityPAC will be watching the special city commission workshop on July 10 at 9:00 a.m. to find out whether we are doomed, or there is still hope to avoid entombing some pieces of our shared sunshine.