Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Step toward Revisions in the 2050 Growth Plan

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Step toward Revisions in the 2050 Growth Plan

Article excerpt

SARASOTA: Planners' proposals could alter shape of future villages


The guidelines for the layout and makeup of future villages in rural Sarasota County could change under proposed amendments to the long-range growth plan.

The alterations relax some zoning requirements to entice developers to build east of Interstate 75.

The growth management plan, dubbed 2050, was finalized in 2004 and reopened in May. It was intended to reduce urban sprawl and create housing clusters around walkable village centers. Only one such community, Grand Palm near Venice, has been created.

After developers raised concerns, saying the restrictions are too stringent and prevent growth, county commissioners told staff to revisit the policy.

On Tuesday, the county's planners offered amendments to some of 2050's rules about different housing types, open space and village centers, including:

Lowering the required number of different housing types in hamlets and villages.

Reducing the required amount of conservation areas by 250 acres, to 750, if objectives for environmental protection are addressed.

Allowing a village's commercial hub to be located anywhere that is easily accessible and next to neighborhoods, instead of requiring it to be close to the village center. The change would also allow more than one commerical center, if the market supports it.

Supporters urged commissioners to advance the amendments. Among them, attorney Michael Furen, who has been involved in the 2050 process.

He said that "2050 does need some work to be a document that is implemented, rather than sitting on the shelf as it has for many, many years."

County commissioners agreed, voting unanimously to send the proposed zoning changes to a public meeting Oct. 7, then to the Planning Commission, before returning to the Board of Commissioners in late November.

The amendments are the first phase of proposed changes to the plan and are less controversial than others to come.

Next, county planners will look into comprehensive plan changes that do not deviate greatly from the fundamental values of the 2050 plan.

Finally, they will review policy changes that may vary from those principles. …

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