- December 23, 2014
Sarasota County commissioners voted 4-0 Wednesday in favor of sending a proposed major land use change to the state for review that if approved by the state, and then a final time by commissioners, would allow Schroeder-Manatee Ranch to build up to 5,000 homes in eastern Sarasota County.
Called the Village Transition Zone, the proposed amendment to the county's Comprehensive Plan would allow for an increased density that would allow SMR to build the 5,000 homes on 4,120 acres that sit generally between University Parkway and Fruitville Road and east of Lorraine Road. SMR's land sprawls almost to the Old Miakka community to the east.
Many Old Miakka-area residents spoke against the plan during public comment, saying the resulting traffic and higher-density neighborhoods would ruin the country lifestyle they moved to the area to enjoy, but their pleas made no impact.
All four commissioners — the fifth, Michael Moran, was absent — made comments showing they were heavily in favor of the development. They indicated they thought SMR had a well-thought-out plan that would provide needed housing to a region that is in demand. After review by the state, an Oct. 25 public hearing will be held in which the commissioners will vote on whether to approve or reject the change in land use.
Commissioner Ron Cutsinger, who made the motion for state transmittal of the proposal, said he agreed with the testimony of representatives of SMR that the county's Comprehensive Plan "can and should evolve."
Cutsinger, who called SMR's proposal an "environmentally conscious approach," said Sarasota County does not disregard environmental impacts but noted that the county is heavily invested in trails and parks. He said the county already has set aside a substantial amount of land for conservation.
Commissioner Christian Ziegler said SMR lives up to its strong reputation.
"What they build is so nice," he said. "We have a huge demand (for housing) in Sarasota County, and we need to fill it. This is a chance for us to increase our supply."