Sarasota County Commission Chair Nora Patterson Tuesday promised to bring up the matter again if she heard any complaints or saw obvious violations, but she joined her four fellow commissioners in giving the county zoning staff permission to grant temporary use permits to small businesses wishing to display banners for up to two weeks, four times a year.
No motion was necessary, Donna Thompson, the county’s assistant zoning administrator said, to allow the zoning administrator to approve the use of the banners up to four times a year. Additionally, Thompson said, the fee would be reduced for the temporary use permits in these cases, from $140 to $50 per event.
“I can tell you, I am going to bring it back to this board if we see banners up all year” or get complaints about the zoning administrator abusing his use of discretion in these matters, Patterson told Thompson during the commission’s regular meeting, held in Sarasota.
When Commissioner Carolyn Mason asked how the county planned to get out the word about the new banners option, Thompson replied that staff could put a notice on the county website (www.scgov.net) and possibly work with neighborhood groups to get their mailing lists.
Thompson also said her office had been getting lots of requests recently about temporary banners and had been advising callers that action would be sought soon from the County Commission. “We’ve taken (the callers’) email addresses to advise them on the action that we proceed with today,” she said.
“It is kind of weird, though, that you could change (the permitting of the signs) without an ordinance change,” Patterson said.
“I don’t believe we need (that) authority from you all,” Thompson said.
The action the commission approved Tuesday also specifies that banners not exceed 32 square feet. The proposal called for a single banner not to exceed 16 square feet, if two banners are used. However, Patterson suggested the zoning office stick with the 32-square-foot parameter. That way, she said, people who want to put up banners could have one that was 24 square feet, for example, and another that was 8 square feet.