DSCA Zoning Code Committee

Following requests from members, in May 2017, the DSCA Board approved formation of a new committee with this charter:

The DSCA ad hoc committee on Zoning Code is formed to work with the DSCA Member condominiums, City of Sarasota staff and other local organizations to review experiences with the Zoning Code as it relates to Land Development Applications and the impacts of Administrative Review and Public Hearing processes.

In June 2017, the committee sent out a survey to the member condo associations requesting feedback on the most critical issues affecting residents with regards to land development and construction projects in our greater downtown neighborhood. The responses were grouped and the committee’s findings were provided to the DSCA Board with the following four major actions to address the residents’ concerns.

Survey Comments DSCA Recommendations
Public input: The majority of respondents wrote that they were unaware of the opportunity for them to make their views known during the development approval process, or if they were aware they didn’t think the chance for citizens to be heard were adequate. DSCA to propose a Zoning Code Amendment requiring Community Workshops, when requested by a specified number of residents, be held prior to submission of a development or site plan application within the Downtown Transect Zones (DTC, DTB, DTE, DTN).
Compatibility with Neighborhood:  Respondents felt that the City staff need to understand that the current residents are also important to the success of the City, not just new development.  The size & dominance of buildings is out of proportion to neighboring buildings.  The health of a city is in its walkability for residents & tourists alike.  Trees along sidewalks and greenspaces are necessary. DSCA to advocate for City staff to make an affirmative statement that a building project is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood to include the setbacks and streetscape of the other buildings in the community when approving building site plans as specified in Zoning Code Sec. IV‑506(4).
Setbacks should be required: A number of respondents, especially those living in buildings on S. Palm, are opposed to building to the lot line. Several S. Palm Ave residents felt that 18 story buildings with no front or side setbacks are incompatible with their neighborhood. DSCA to support a Zoning Text Amendment reestablishing the requirement for wider front, rear and side lot-line building setbacks in the community extending from Ringling Blvd. to Mound Street between South Palm and Gulfstream Avenues (a subarea of the Downtown Bayfront [DTB] zone).
Construction Safety:  One respondent summed up the situation regarding accidents, such as debris falling on neighboring property endangering residents and the safety of passing pedestrians and bicyclists this way: “The City has taken a hands-off attitude.” DSCA to organize a workshop to educate the public on the current Form-Based Zoning Code to include a brief history of how and why the current zoning code that affects downtown Sarasota was adopted; what is and why do we have administrative approval of building site plans, and how residents can make their views known about a development project.  Construction safety issues will also be discussed to include to whom residents should contact when they see a safety problem.

To view the table of findings and recommendations see: DSCA Zoning Code Committee Findings-Recommendations-20171101