You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Venice gives initial OK to most significant change to land development rules since 1970s

Sarasota Herald-Tribune logo Sarasota Herald-Tribune 6/29/2022 Earle Kimel, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
a palm tree in front of a building: The Venice City Council approved the first reading of new land development regulations on a 5-1 vote Tuesday. © HERALD-TRIBUNE ARCHIVE PHOTO The Venice City Council approved the first reading of new land development regulations on a 5-1 vote Tuesday.

VENICE – The Venice City Council has taken a step toward adopting the most significant change to the city’s land development rules since the 1970s.

The regulations are scheduled to come back to the council for final approval on July 12.

The initial OK for the 600-plus page document came on a 5-1 Tuesday.

Mayor Ron Feinsod, who had said over the past several meetings that he thought the council should hold more workshops and delay a decision until after the council’s summer break, voted in dissent. Feinsod has previously said he cannot attend the July 12 meeting.

Related: Venice land development regulations highlight rift on council

Before the vote, Feinsod pulled out four hard-copy drafts of the evolving code – from January 2021, June 2021, April 2022 and May 2022 – and noted each draft had no underlines to reflect additions or strikethroughs to reference deletions from the previous iterations.

He also noted that there was no hard copy of the draft the board voted on Tuesday and said he received a text message that it was available online after 7 p.m.

“I’m old-fashioned,” Feinsod said, then described how he used a highlighter and sticky notes to compare the drafts.

Earlier: Proposed Venice land use rules still stir questions on building height

Council Member Helen Moore countered that all drafts – with sections that featured additions and deletions from previous iterations – were available online at the city web site.

“They have been online all along,” she said, then added that each draft reflected a tighter focus.

“The final product has gotten narrower and narrower every time,” Moore said. “That’s the record.”

Council Member Jim Boldt, the city’s liaison to its planning board, moved that the board approve the first reading, which Vice Mayor Nick Pachota seconded.

“This is not carved in concrete,” Boldt said. “There will be changes over the years.”

Moore referred to a process which during public meetings had become contentious – especially a final public workshop June 22.

“My comment is to the staff in entirety, present, past, the leadership, the hours, the sincerity, the absence of agenda and yet the public beatings that you’ve taken – all of you – should not have happened,” Moore said. “You have my admiration and thanks for years dedicated to this.

“I feel that the meeting last Wednesday at 5 p.m. was a disservice and disgrace – that's not including what was said about anyone else.”

Council Member Mitzie Fiedler agreed with Moore.

“I think that the staff has done a wonderful job and the Planning Commission has done a wonderful job,” Fiedler said. “I think you’ve taken a lot of unnecessary hits and you’re still upright.

“You’ve just responded in a perfect, professional tone, as did the Planning Commission.”

Moore’s alluded to earlier in the day when retired judge Don O'Connell started public comment by admonishing the board – primarily Feinsod -- for disparaging remarks directed at developer Pat Neal and local attorney Jeff Boone.

Referencing the message the mayor reads at the top of each meeting that says personal attacks will not be allowed, O’Connell said, “Either you have to stop reading that statement or start enforcing that statement.” 

Boone followed O'Connell by characterizing comments directed at him that evening as “malice per se,” then later added. “There will be a time for me to respond to what was said; right now is not that time.” 

The council made several changes to the draft before approval, including a design alternative to allow parking spaces to shrink from 10 feet wide to 9 feet and a height exception of up to 75 feet for structures in the Knights Trail Road Transitional Area north of PGT Industries.

In other action 

Also on Tuesday, the City Council: 

• Continued until Sept. 27 a public hearing on an appeal of the Planning Commission’s approval of three pickleball courts in the Venetian Golf & River Club. 

• Approved a new special event the Venice Pride Festival at Centennial Park, which will be Saturday, Nov. 12. 

• Gave a 20-year service award to Venice Police Lt. Jessica Chappa, who announced her retirement. 

• Swore in four new Venice Police officers, Alden Codina, Matthew DiGiacomo, Diana Kaouris and Michael Slowik. 

• Appointed Fiedler to succeed Joe Neunder as the city’s representative on the Sarasota-Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization and Council Member Jim Boldt to succeed Neunder as the city’s representative to the Manasota League of Cities. 

• Discussed developing a new method to conduct performance evaluation for the city’s Charter Officers – the city manager and city clerk. 

• Voted to dissolve the Charter Review Board, now that the referendum on proposed charter changes was set for the November ballot. 

Earle Kimel primarily covers south Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be reached at earle.kimel@heraldtribune.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.

This article originally appeared on Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Venice gives initial OK to most significant change to land development rules since 1970s

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon