The Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) has set pushing back against proposed changes to the Sarasota 2050 plan as its top priority in the post-recession development uptick.
On Monday night the group, which comprises more than 70 area neighborhoods, homeowner associations, condominium associations and civic organizations, will meet to discuss how urban services factor into the 2050 debate.
A panel discussion titled ‘Urban Services, Urban Realities,’ will feature downtown developer Jesse Biter, Downtown Improvement District board member Eileen Hampshire, Downtown Sarasota Alliance board member Vic Sully and New College Professor David Brain.
CONA, which was created in 1961, represents the interests of more than 70,000 area residents.
CONA President Lourdes Ramirez, who recently announced her 2014 candidacy for the Sarasota County Commission, has said that resisting proposed changes to the Sarasota 2050 plan are at the forefront of the combined neighborhood association’s agenda in the post-recession economy, which is seeing an uptick in new construction and development as well as an anticipated surge in area population.
Ramirez said that loosening the current community planning and fiscal neutrality requirements of the original 2050 proposal will encourage development sprawl in east Sarasota County, inevitably forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for new infrastructure projects such as roads and sewage systems to accommodate the new urban areas.
According to CONA, the proposed changes to Sarasota’s 2050 plan are “shortsighted,” and new development should happen first in urban areas closer to the coast with an existing utilities infrastructure that can absorb population growth with no additional cost to taxpayers. Other changes, such as rezoning city land to allow for higher density housing, would also help take advantage of existing growth capacity, Ramirez said.
CONA’s Monday-night meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m., at the Sarasota Garden Club, 1131 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota.
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