The Sarasota County Commission Wednesday voted to continue the rezoning petition brought by the developers of the Bee Ridge Park of Commerce.
The Commission voted unanimously (5-0) to postpone consideration of the proposed plan for the BRPOC, situated opposite the entrance to Lake Sarasota at Mauna Loa Blvd. and Bee Ridge Rd.
The Commissioners cited several reasons for not approving the petition: For one thing, the proposal for an 77,000-square-foot building lacked clear definition of how it would be used.
"You could do something more imaginative and appealing," said Commission Nora Patterson, adding that with some creative work, it could prove to be a community asset.
For another, the request for an extra median cut in North Mauna Loa Blvd. opposite the planned Racetrac Gas Station raised public safety concerns because of its proximity to the signal at Bee Ridge and Mauna Loa Blvd.
A third issue mentioned by three of the five Commissioners was that the developer, TerraCap Management LLC and its agents, Peter Dailey and Richard Fischer, never met with neighborhood residents despite efforts from residents to open a dialogue regarding certain potential uses they found objectionable.
"I would like to see you work with them and hear their concerns and work at resolving them so this can work for everybody," said Commissioner Carolyn Mason.
"I have a bad taste in my mouth, Mr. Dailey," said Commissioner Christine Robinson. "I think it can be fixed -- the variables are troubling. I don’t see compatibility at this point."
More than one Commissioner cited a 2004 Covenant worked out for the Publix shopping plaza at Bee Ridge and Bee Ridge Extension as a model for a win/win agreement between the developer and residents. That Covenant clearly ruled out certain kinds of business uses, such as adult entertainment and taverns. It also set clear standards for signage and other elements of the plaza.
In contrast, TerraCap sought to increase its allotted signage for the BRPOC from 200 square feet to 800 square feet, plus an additional 15-foot sign.
The developer was given six months to revise its proposal, and to work with residents, with the aim of returning in October or November of this year with a plan that is clearer and more compatible with the neighborhood's wishes.
A by-product of the Commission's decision is that construction of the planned Racetrac gas station is likely to be postponed. The petroleum company was hoping to get a right-in, right-out turn lane from Bee Ridge approved, but it was part of the overall proposal that was continued with the rest of the proposed rezoning package.