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Letter to the Editor

Zoning keeps greedy developers in check

A reader writes that zoning laws ensure equal property rights for all.

  • By
  • | 5:00 a.m. May 23, 2024
  • Sarasota
  • Opinion
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Mr. Walsh’s understanding of design and zoning is a perfect example of our current “Looking Glass” world where good is bad and day is night. 

As first legislated in the United States in 1904, and upheld by the Supreme Court in 1926, zoning laws are a “nuisance-preventing device,” established to prevent greedy and unscrupulous developers from constructing buildings that would rob light and air from neighboring structures and prohibit unsavory or inappropriate uses adjacent to others (think bars next to schools and churches or industrial refining next to residential areas). 

Zoning laws are why we have setbacks between houses, buffer zones between buildings and wetlands and commercial areas gathered together, creating walkable environments, such as Sarasota’s Main Street.

Zoning laws are not anti-property rights, but instead ensure equal property rights for all. If they have been used for discriminatory purposes in the past, modern adjustments to the laws have made progress toward mandating fair and equitable planning for all communities. 

I agree that the building in the view of Tamiami Trail that Mr. Walsh provided, while possibly adhering to the Sarasota 2020 Master Plan form-based zoning code, should never have been approved by our planning department due to its height, length and closeness to the road. We need our planners to use common sense in interpreting the zoning code, and who will not bend to greedy developers’ demands. 

Zoning laws have not made our towns or cities ugly. The architects (of any sex) are beholden to their clients, clients who, unfortunately, put profit over good design values.

— Andrew Blanda, Sarasota


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