Local Democratic Party votes to oppose Benderson Proposed Project At Stickney Pt/US 41

LOCAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY VOTES TO OPPOSE BENDERSON PROPOSED PROJECT AT STICKNEY PT/US 41

By Jon Susce           

On the evening of January 11, 2017 at a meeting of the Sarasota Democratic Executive Committee, the SDEC approved a motion to oppose the proposed Benderson Project at Stickney Point and U.S 41 and support the opposition to this project. The motion was overwhelmingly approved by the rank and file membership of the local DEC with a standing room crowd of over 225 individuals in attendance.

The Benderson Siesta Promenade project, a hotly contested mixed-use development, was back in the public eye at the Pine Shores Presbyterian Church on December 12, 2016, the first time since early October, when Sarasota County tabled the discussion to set a Critical Area Plan boundary.

MAJOR ISSUES WITH BENDERSON TRAFFIC ANALYSIS

There are major issues with Benderson’s traffic analysis as well as evacuation route requirements and monitoring as presented by Benderson Project Manager, Todd Mathes.  These problems need  attention before further steps are taken. Concerns about traffic and density have dominated similar meetings this year, and the December 12, 2016 meeting followed suit.

Benderson is expected to seek an exception from county regulations to build a maximum of 25 residential units per acre, which is nearly double the 13 units currently allowed at the site.

Those numbers have outraged residents, who say they’re already plagued with intolerable traffic near this primary gateway to Siesta Key during the peak of tourism season. The project features a hotel, 140,000-square-feet of retail space and a residential component.
BENDERSON TRAFFIC STUDIES DOUBTED
John Huber, who lives off of Midnight Pass Road, was quoted in a Sarasota Herald Tribune article asking his neighbors to chip in for their own traffic study. He had doubts about whether the studies Benderson had commissioned truly addressed the in-season traffic boom.  Traffic reports are written by traffic engineers for traffic engineers, he said.  Huber wanted an unbiased, outside opinion that the average person could comprehend.

“We need a traffic report in plain English that a person with a high school education could understand, and we need that traffic report to be done at high season,” Huber said.

OTHER COMMENTS FROM RESIDENTS OF PROPOSED BENDERSON PROJECT
Others requested analysis that would address wildlife, sewers and response times for ambulances. One woman asked if Benderson had plans to build a bigger bridge to Siesta Key to combat the increase in traffic. There are days it’s already backed up for two miles, she said, and this will only make it worse. Another, Rhana Bazzini, came armed with a petition that asked that the land be turned into a park with a shuttle stop for service to Siesta Key.
“TRAFFIC IS IMPOSSIBLE”
Joe Dokes: “Last year getting into Siesta key was close to impossible. Because I know the area I stayed off of Tamiami and would just ignore the area because of the clog getting into the key at 41 and Stickney Point Road. Traffic at times was backed up a good mile in either direction. I know this because of a memory slip; I got caught up in it. All I could think of was what happens in an emergency?”  No doubt that no one has learned anything from the University Town Center fiasco, and this Benderson plan is just plain foolish.
NO RESPONSE FROM BENDERSON
Vickie Nightswander: “I went to two of the informational meetings, signed for updates and got nothing. There are major issues with traffic analysis as well as with evacuation route requirements and monitoring that need attention before further steps are taken. Don’t we all believe safety should be at the front end of these decisions? Updating in both areas has become a dire need with the continued growth and development.”
“RETAIL BRICKS AND MORTAR ARE BECOMING AN EXTINCT SPECIES”
Diane Unger: “Macy’s is closing 100 stores, Hollister,  and Barnes and Noble are considering closing all of their stores; Sears are closing 100 stores. There are no chains coming to Sarasota, nor independent stores that are needed, wanted or could afford to lease in THIS planned 140,000 square foot retail center, that is so needed.  Retail Bricks and Mortar are becoming an extinct species.”

Another neighborhood activists stated, ”I cannot understand why Benderson would build such a monumental shopping area, when after custom building the Sports Authority space, they went bankrupt a year later. The area does not need, warrant or justify another barber shop or cleaners as Mr. Mathes has stated in the past. Reduce the retail to half that size if at all. Keep the residential within the current zoning. Build the hotel, but enough is enough with building an oversized, traffic nightmare, total invasion on a residential area that wants its quality of life to remain the same.”

Not one individual at the December 12th meeting, and only a veryfew at numerous other meetings in 2016, have approved the Benderson proposed project.

 PAST BENDERSON TRAFFIC PLANS INACCURATE
Three years ago Benderson gave the Sarasota County Commission a traffic plan that showed the University Town Center (UTC) traffic plan which was supposed to balance the effect of traffic caused by the mall. Benderson’s traffic engineers’ plan proved to be inaccurate and over $100 million in public funds were needed to build an interchange, and other traffic mitigation to alleviate the massive urban sprawl at the University Blvd./US I-75 Corridor.
The $millions in public funds needed to bail out the failed Benderson traffic plan was approved by Republican Governor Rick Scott and local Republican politicians.
MORE RESOLUTIONS TO BE FORTHCOMING FROM LOCAL SDEC
This resolution is one of several resolutions that are expected to be made to the SDEC in the upcoming election cycle.It appears these resolutions will give a clear indication that the local Democratic Party is indeed willing to take a stand on issues that the local Republican Party has refused to address, due to multimillion dollar Republican developers involved with “Pay to Play” scams with the Republican Sarasota County Commission.

Some of the resolutions expected to be involved, but are not limited to the following:

  • Recent changes in the county comprehensive plan benefiting local developers.
  • Wetlands destruction to construct a another gourmet food store and gas station along an already congested area off University Parkway.
  • The ongoing need for affordable housing for working county residents and their families.
  • The use of public $multimillions$ to benefit the interests of large corporations that pledge a partnership to raise private multi-millions for construction projects, such as the local rowing park or youth baseball facilities, but seem not to deliver as promised.

 

Posted in Breaking News, Politics, Regional / Local News, Regional / Local Politics

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