Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Residents Leery of Pinebrook Plan | 44-Unit Apartment Complex Still Faces Bureaucratic Hurdles | 44-Unit Apartment Complex Still Faces Bureaucratic Hurdles

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Residents Leery of Pinebrook Plan | 44-Unit Apartment Complex Still Faces Bureaucratic Hurdles | 44-Unit Apartment Complex Still Faces Bureaucratic Hurdles

Article excerpt

VENICE

VENICE -- John McNicol and his wife Zeliha have lived in four different neighborhoods since he retired to Venice.

They were on Barcelona Avenue for several years, just a block from Venice Beach, but life got too hectic there.

"We loved the house, we loved the area," said the 69-year-old McNicol, who is on oxygen and living through the end stages of COPD. "The island is so busy, it's just easier to be out here, where it's almost like being in the country right now."

Right now, the McNicols live off Sleepy Hollow Road, and fear that peace could come to an end if a proposed 44-unit apartment complex at 1229 Pinebrook Road successfully makes it through the city's planning process.

"Hundred people in my front yard is what it would amount to," McNicol said. "That's my main concern."

To get 44 units on 2.39-acres, property owner Pinebrook Park LLC would need city officials to grant the right to build more than 18 units per acre on a parcel that's bordered by single-family homes to the west and south and a nursing home to the north.

The land fronts Pinebrook Road to the east, is directly across from Wellfield Park, and less than three miles south of the Laurel Road intersection, where Sarasota Memorial Hospital plans to build a new hospital.

Those logistics, coupled with the proximity of shopping within walking distance on East Venice Avenue, make the parcel an ideal location for apartments, noted Jeff Boone, the developer's attorney.

"These are apartments that are going to be aimed at rents that can be afforded by school teachers, firemen, policemen, nurses, medical technicians, young professionals," Boone said.

Last March Boone showcased a concept plan at a neighborhood meeting that included seven two-story buildings and more than 90 parking spaces. But, he stressed, those plans are fluid and things would likely change before a final site plan is drafted.

Before apartments can be built, the Planning Commission and City Council must rule on an application for a comprehensive plan amendment to change the land classification to high density residential and an application to change the Pinebrook planned unit development to allow multifamily on that site. …

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