Sarasota County staff members have extended the period for public comment regarding the county’s second “wiki,” this one regarding water-efficient landscaping.
The Aug. 22 deadline was moved to 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 5. That decision came in response to requests from individuals who wanted to participate but felt they would be unable to do so in time, said Chuck Henry, environmental health administrator and project coordinator with the Sarasota County Health Department.
“The whole reason we’re in this is to get input from the public,” he said. “We were happy to extend (the deadline) another two weeks.”
Like the first wiki earlier this year, on the county’s zoning code involving commercial development regulations, this one is available through the county’s website, www.scgov.net. After registering, anyone wishing to participate will receive a password by email. Then, the user may proceed to the wiki site and suggest changes to the county code regarding minimum standards for landscape planning and installation, as well as water-efficient irrigation. The focus is on ways to promote water conservation.
The original ordinance was adopted Nov. 13, 2001; it was amended Feb. 22, 2005, and again Sept. 24, 2008. Numerous new amendments have been proposed to bring the code into compliance with revisions in state laws.
County officials say landscape watering accounts for an estimated 50% of annual water use in the entire state. County officials say the local code is intended to benefit property owners in numerous ways, such as enabling them to save a significant amount of money on water bills; decreasing the use of fertilizers and pesticides; reducing the amount of runoff created by over-watering; and reducing pollutants created by the runoff.
Each time a user suggests changes, a new version of the code automatically is created, Henry said. As of Monday, the code had undergone six revisions. About a dozen people so far have offered comments in the discussion sections, he added, especially regarding Sections 4 and 5.
Section 4 includes definitions for the code, such as “drought-tolerant plant.” That definition had been addressed recently by a user who proposed that the wording read: “A plant that can survive without irrigation throughout the year once established, although supplemental water may be desirable during drought periods for improved appearance and pest resistance.”