by Kate Lowman, president LPNA
The LPNA has received a “Planning Advocate” Award for its work on the Laurel Park Overlay. This annual award, given by the Florida Sun Coast Section of the American Planners’ Association, is given to a community group in recognition of “significant commitment and support of community planning.”
The Laurel Park Overlay, approved August 19, 2013 by the Sarasota City Commission, enables Laurel Park residents to have a voice in large development projects built across the street from the neighborhood. The Overlay was approved on a 4-1 vote, completing three years of work on the part of the neighborhood. (FOR: Snyder, Shaw, Atwell, Chapman; AGAINST: Caragiulo).
In the future, large developments on the edge of the neighborhood will go through a process requiring two community workshops. Although this is not the full Planning Board process which the neighborhood initially requested, the LPNA Board is hopeful that it will contribute to more compatible development on our borders.
The Overlay, as passed, is a City-proposed compromise. It retains administrative approval (city staff approves development projects) but it includes 2 community workshops, the first early on when a project is in the conceptual stage, and the second after plans have been submitted to the City. It also ensures that residents can appeal a decision to the Planning Board and City Commission, if necessary. Such an appeal would be expensive and difficult, but it provides an important protection to the neighborhood. The Overlay affects properties next to the neighborhood and only impacts large projects (over 5,000 square feet or over 8 residential units.)
The Laurel Park Neighborhood Association would like to thank the many residents who attended the multiple meetings over the years and who sent e-mails and letters to the Commissioners.