Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Are They Listening?

SARASOTA -- The practice of allowing developers to submit last-minute changes to their plans without going through neighbors and city staff has got to stop, the city manager told commissioners on Monday.

The commission, which has quickly approved some of the changes in recent months, took up an unusual motion to stop considering such last-minute plans.

"If this would alleviate some of the fears of the neighbors and citizens of Sarasota, then we need to codify it," said Mayor Fredd "Glossie" Atkins after Monday's meeting.

Neighborhood leaders, who dressed in black last month for a silent protest, were enthusiastic about the motion, which could get voted on at the next commission meeting. They hope there will be no more votes on last-minute developer changes.

... Mayor Atkins said that neighbors are "over-sensitive" to the last-minute issue because of recent events.

[From the Sarasota Herald Tribune]

Sarasota’s Comprehensive Plan says:

It shall be the goal of the City to achieve healthy and livable neighborhoods by:

  • Maximizing opportunities for all citizens to have meaningful involvement in the decisions that affect their neighborhood

Is the current discussion a step in the right direction?

We certainly hope so.

The residents of Sarasota have a long history of being involved in the decisions that affect our quality of life. As Sarasota winds its way through a period of explosive growth, the quality of life that we have enjoyed and expect becomes threatened. Traffic, high rise buildings, limited parking, escalating real estate prices, diminished green space, limiting views and access to the bay and gulf, higher levels of air and water pollution all become constraints to enjoying life in Sarasota. Growth brings these negative effects. Careful planning and listening to citizens is the only way to deal effectively with these negative effects.

Participation by citizens in the government process must be encouraged, not limited.

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