Sarasota passes amendments to slow growth listen11/09/07 Seán Kinane
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On Tuesday, Sarasota residents voted to add an extra layer of community control over local development. They approved two ballot initiatives adding amendments to the Sarasota city and county charters that require a 4-1 supermajority approval by the commission for any exceptional building projects in either the city or the county.
Citizens for Sensible Growth in Sarasota County is one of the main groups that advocated for passing the amendments requiring a supermajority vote to change comp plans. Bill Earl is a board member of Citizens for Sensible Growth.
“That is designed to give the citizens a larger voice in the growth management process in Sarasota County and reduce sprawl and traffic congestion and promote smart growth.”
Earl described why the amendments are important.
“All over Florida, the Comprehensive Plan, which is designed to be the blueprint for the future growth 10 or 20 years down the road of the counties and cities, they’ve been riddled with legislative exceptions, so what was once a blueprint has become just a short term menu of every time a developer wants to change something he amends what’s supposed to be a public interest plan and it’s amended for small private benefits without evaluating, without bringing in the overall community vision of what an area should look like. A shared vision between developers and citizens and neighborhoods.”
The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce opposed the supermajority amendments. Steve Queior is president of the Chamber; he said requiring a supermajority is not the most democratic option.
Queior said the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce opposed the amendments requiring a supermajority vote to change comp plans for other reasons as well.
But Citizens for Sensible Growth’s Earl was pleased that Sarasota became the first county where voters have mandated that comp changes only occur with supermajority support.
Sarasota citizens also voted to extend a 1-cent sales tax to support infrastructure.