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Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010 7 years ago

Board demands greenspace guarantee

by: Robin Roy City Editor

As it seeks support for its new greenspace policy, the city is talking with its advisory boards, but what it’s receiving is qualified support.

The city wants a major shift in its greenspace policy. The master plan currently states the city should “reduce the use of shrubs and bushes to a bare minimum.”

That language was crafted with the help of urban planner Andres Duhany, who believed too many trees and plantings did not make for a walkable city.

The new policy is a 180-degree turn and says that greenspace is preferred to hardscape, such as brick pavers.

City planners visited both the Planning Board and the Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board last week to ask their blessing to put the new policy in the city’s master plan.

A split Planning Board voted 3-2 to endorse that plan, with the two members dissenting because no details were provided on paying for the policy’s implementation and no guarantees were given on maintaining trees, shrubs and plants once they’re installed.

CRAAB members went a step further, giving their support on the condition that the city include in the master plan a requirement that plantings have to be maintained.

“If we’re going to have greenspace, the city has to maintain it,” said CRAAB member Ron McCullough. “Five Points Park was a disaster. (The greenspace outside of) C’est La Vie (restaurant) looks awful. I’m sure it looked nice at one time, but it wasn’t maintained.”

In January, the city will form a work group of interested citizens to determine an official greenspace mitigation policy. For example, if a business owner wanted to remove a plant bed in front of his store and replace it with pavers, he may have to offset that loss of greenspace by creating another plant bed somewhere else or donate some money to a city fund that creates greenspace.

The City Commission is expected to vote in February on placing the greenspace policy in the master plan.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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