City Commissioners Monday on a second reading approved a North Trail Overlay District (NTOD).
That administrative site plan review was designed to encourage developers to redevelop aging motels and other properties on the North Trail.
Several business and property owners on the North trail said the overlay district would not be effective because it did not include the element that would allow city staff to approve certain development adjustments through administrative site plan review—instead of giving that authority to City Commissioners.
The amended, diluted version of the overlay district does not give enough incentive for redevelopment on the North Trail, said Marietta Lee, who runs the Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy on the south end of the North Trail.
“I own three properties on the North Trail, and I feel this would not help my situation at all,” Lee said.
On April 1, City Commissioners approved the NTOD with the administrative site plan review. At that time, voicing concern about “intrusive” developments being built under new guidelines, City Commissioner Terry Turner proposed an amendment that altered the way developments are approved under the proposal. Under Turner’s amendment, the planning board retains final approval on projects — as opposed to a change that would have given city staff the authority to have final say on developments on the North Trail. Commissioners approved the amendment 3-2.
At Monday’s meeting, Commissioner Paul Caragiulo motioned for an overlay more closely resembling the initial proposal recommended by city staff and that included the administrative review. That motion died for lack of a second.
Commissioners then in a unanimous vote approved the amended version of the proposal, on second reading.
Residents who live next to the North Trail were divided on the district, with some arguing for the initial overlay plan, and others saying the amended proposal better protects neighborhoods from development that doesn’t fit.
“This is a good first step, better than what we had before,” said Mayor Suzanne Atwell.
In other items:
• Approved a limited fee waiver for the Sarasota Chalk Festival. Commissioner Shannon Snyder made the motion to approve a grant waiver in the amount the city waived last year. Chalk Festival organizers had requested an additional waiver fee for the cost of city police services, at an extra cost of $4,488 to $10,342. The additional waiver was not approved.
• Voted unanimously to make the playground area at Payne Park a pet-free area. “We need to protect kids as well as pet owners,” said City Commissioner Terry Turner. They also unanimously voted to extend a leash regulation to Payne Park. The change, which was recommended by the city’s Parks, Recreation and Environmental Protection advisory board, requires dog owners to keep their dogs on a leash at the park. Such a leash law had not been previously in place at the park.
• Approved a Comprehensive Plan change that would clear the way for Downtown Edge or Downtown Neighborhood Edge zoning for 35 acres of property located west of Ed Smith Stadium.
“I think we are going in the right direction,” Commission Shannon Snyder said about the change to the Future Land Use map.
See Thursday’s Sarasota Observer for more on Monday’s meeting.