Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Stalled negotiations on Covenant: UPDATE

Members of the Board and other interested residents of Lake Sarasota will meet today with representatives of TerraCap in a final effort to negotiate a neighborhood-friendly agreement addressing the concerns regarding safety, tranquility, and property values. The results will be reported here.

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A conversation about a legally binding Covenant between Lake Sarasota residents and agents for TerraCap Mgmt. has not progressed since a June 12 meeting.

The community has concerns about traffic, nuisance noise and odors, and damage to property values that could arise from mishandled development of the commercial land opposite the front entrance of the Lake S. community at Mauna Loa Blvd. and Bee Ridge Road.


Agents for TerraCap, the Canadian owner of the Bee Ridge Park of Commerce who sold the front property to Racetrac, were approached in April about a Covenant, but ignored the Community's overture. After the developer's latest rezoning plan failed to receive County approval -- in part, Commissioners said, because they refused to work with the Community -- one meeting was held, raising hopes that some binding Covenant could be worked out.

Hopes faded after TerraCap did not address or offer to negotiate a Covenant outline presented by the Community after the sole June meeting. On August 13, Lake Sarasota wrote to request that the developers meet to negotiate in person. So far that request has not received a reply. The Community's letter seeking the meeting is below.




Lake Sarasota Community Group
7108 Java Drive
Sarasota, FL 34241


August 13, 2014


Dear Mr. Fischer and Mr. Dailey,


When the Lake Sarasota Community Group first proposed to the Sarasota County Board of Commissioners a means of establishing a voluntary, Neighborhood-Friendly agreement between Lake Sarasota and the Bee Ridge Park of Commerce, our goal was simple and clear: We sought a voluntary, legally binding Covenant that would help ensure a win-win for our neighborhood and the developer.


For the neighborhood, three major issues were paramount: road safety, residential tranquility and property values.


We sent you a draft of such an agreement on April 23, 2014, after polling residents and gaining a shared sense of key concerns. We received no reply. When you went before the Board on May 21 seeking approval for your rezoning, the fact that you had not responded to a request for compatibility that had come to you from the 1,600-home community directly across the road from your proposed commercial development was remarked upon by more than one Commissioner. Your proposal was continued, with the directive that you “work with the people of Lake Sarasota.”


Subsequently we received your letter which stated in part:


  1. We are prepared to discuss the possibility of a “privately initiated” Restrictive Covenant Agreement (to be filed with Sarasota Clerk of Circuit Court) per permitted land uses in both the PCD and CN Zone Districts of BRPOC.


We scheduled and held one meeting with you and residents of the Lake Sarasota Community, including its Board, on June 12. At that meeting, you as representatives of TerraCap agreed that we would draw up an outline for a legal Covenant modeled upon that of the Publix Plaza, whose entire purpose was to ensure that our three key concerns would be lawfully protected by the terms of the Covenant into the future, whether the owner of the BRPOC was TerraCap or some future owner or Assign of the property.


We thought that you had agreed that a Covenant was the proper instrument to assure Lake Sarasota residents that their safety, tranquility, and property would not be disturbed or harmed by the proximity of an ambitious commercial plaza issuing directly into the busy intersection at Bee Ridge and Mauna Loa, where our main entrance is located.


Apparently we were mistaken.


After the June 12 meeting, Lake Sarasota residents put serious time and effort into drawing up a proposed Covenant Outline and gathering consensus from our residents. We modeled it upon the 2004 Covenant voluntarily entered into by the developer of the Publix Plaza a few miles along Bee Ridge Road to the East, at the Extension. We sent it July 7 and invited your response. (See Outline of Covenant below.)


Unfortunately, your response of July 25 makes no mention of a Covenant. Instead you offer your word that you will comply with existing regulations, and list eight commercial ventures that you pledge to not allow in the BRPOC.


We note that your July 25th list is identical to the list you brought to our June 12th meeting. Repeating the same thing before and after a single meeting meets no known definition of work. We see no progress or movement in your position, and therefore our community has no more assurance than it had in April that your project will protect our safety, tranquility, and property values.


In short, your reply meets no reasonable definition of “working with” our neighborhood; in our view, it fails to respect the spirit and intent of the directive of the Board of Commissioners.


Lacking a Covenant, we have no guarantee that you or the Bee Ridge Park of Commerce’s later assigns will respect your pledge. Given that our concerns with regard to types of businesses is considerably broader than the eight you listed, we do not see that you have in fact responded to any portion of our proposal.


As a last effort to see if we can find a way forward, we invite you to meet with us face to face to go over our proposal point by point, with the aim of agreeing on a legally binding covenant, modeled on the Declarations of the Publix Plaza, that would be a win-win. Any time between now and August 29 that is convenient for all parties would be fine with us.


Please let us know at your earliest convenience whether this is agreeable, and a few dates and times that would work for you.


Failing to reach a stipulated Covenant protecting our community would leave us no choice but to go before the Board of County Commissioners in September in full opposition to your project.


Sincerely,

Secretary
Lake Sarasota Community Group


Prior Documents in Bee Ridge Park of Commerce Covenant Correspondence


Note: Our original initiative and your response are appended below. One corrected element: In the outline under Commercial Uses (acceptable to the community) our original proposal had inadvertently omitted one use, which is now restored in Italics to the list. It is: Midrange or upscale franchise restaurant (e.g. Chili’s) (no drive-thru)


Cover Letter from Lake Sarasota on Covenant Initiative
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July 7, 2014


Dear Mr. Fischer and Mr. Dailey,


After reviewing all of the material that has been developed or exchanged regarding our requests for consideration of some restrictions in the Bee Ridge Park of Commerce (BRPOC), we submit the following summary document to clarify what we think are reasonable requests.We hope you will review and agree with our position.We wish to reach a point at which we can wholeheartedly support your rezoning proposal as well as the Bee Ridge Rd. right-in/right-out request at the Commission level.


We have carefully reviewed the “Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions Restricting Development and Land Uses” for the location known as the Publix Plaza at the end of Bee Ridge road, made field visits to the site, reviewed the existing zoning allowances and restrictions under the CN designation, and evaluated your list of potential areas for negotiation.


The Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions for the Publix location embodies a reasonable model for the developer and reflects the surrounding communities’ sensitivities to commercial development in the area.


The Declaration accomplishes many things as it seeks to modulate the space between commercial activity and residential tranquility. For example, it


--Defines lighting by type and height
--Discusses setbacks
--Defines and limits signage
--Outlines neighborhood-friendly business uses and practices.


In summary, we feel that our situation is very similar to that of the neighborhoods near the Publix Plaza, with the difference that some of our residential areas are much closer to the BRPOC site.


We have modeled our request to mirror much of what is contained in their document, and we believe it will serve both parties well. Attached is an outline of what we would like to submit for your consideration and agreement.


A few comments will help explain our position for each segment:


Lighting
The height and type lighting specified at Publix Plaza gives ample coverage and does not impact the local residential Community. We would like to have that type of light fixture replicated at BRPOC.


Setbacks
Your voluntary agreement on setbacks is appreciated. We ask that you coordinate with Racetrac to ensure consistency along Bee Ridge Rd. and North Mauna Loa Blvd..


Signage
  • While signage is dictated by County standards, we ask again that you coordinate with Racetrac to ensure complementary signs along Bee Ridge, and that “Tombstone” signs follow similar designs.
  • You will note we have requested limited hours of operation at night. We will also pursue the same request with Racetrac as to dimming lights at night.


Landscaping
County standards dictate types and numbers of plantings/trees to be installed. Again, we ask you to coordinate with Racetrac to insure consistency along Bee Ridge road and N. Mauna Loa Blvd.     


Permitted Uses/Restrictions
The Publix Plaza document lists not only restricted uses but permitted uses as well. We believe that type of definition—what can and cannot be allowed—will serve both parties well and also avoids confusion, interpretation and appeals at a later date.


We support the Bee Ridge Rd. westbound right-in/right-out request you have made. However, we defer to County Staff’s judgment regarding the requested median cut on North Mauna Loa Blvd.


We are available to discuss the details of this proposal at your convenience.


Lake Sarasota


cc: Paula Wiggins, Jack Wilhelm, Tom Hardy (Racetrac), Donna Thompson, BRNC members, LSCG.
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Outline of proposed Covenant and Restrictions for the BRPOC


Specific Proposed Covenant Restrictions
for the Bee Ridge Park of Commerce
July, 2014


1. Lighting for off-street parking:
  • Design: Each light source is recessed within an opaque housing and concealed behind an opaque surface so that each such light source is not visible from Bee Ridge Road.
  • The lighting fixtures shall be no more than 24 feet in height and otherwise comply with the outdoor lighting requirements of the Sarasota County Zoning Regulations.


2. Signage
  • The only ground signs erected on the Bee Ridge Park of Commerce site to serve the upscale neighborhood shopping center shall be monument signs no more than EIGHT (8) feet in height (with no greater square footage than the Racetrac monument sign).
  • No illuminated wall signage shall be illuminated between 11 pm and 6 am; provided that automated teller machines may be illuminated as necessary to comply with state regulatory requirements.


3. Setbacks
  • 50-foot setback from Bee Ridge Road as you have committed to.
  • Setback consistent with Racetrac along North Mauna Loa


4. Landscaping
The primary objective of landscaping is to mute the impacts of noise and glare of commercial operations upon adjacent residential areas in an aesthetically pleasing way. Consistency with Racetrac when possible.


5. Land Use Restrictions for the CN Zoning:
Notwithstanding other uses that might in the future be permitted on the Property under the Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan, Zoning Regulations and any other applicable regulations, the Commercial Center Site (BRPOC) shall be used only for the following principal uses:


a. Grocery
If there is a Grocery Store, it will have a ground floor of no more than 37,500 square feet gross floor area. Such grocery store shall not receive deliveries between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.


b. Commercial Uses
(1). The following uses (regardless of zoning designation) shall be allowed on the BRPOC site as commercial neighborhood shops and service-related businesses:


  • Art gallery/frame shop
  • Bank
  • Breakfast coffee shop
  • Deli/sandwich shop
  • Midrange or upscale franchise restaurant (e.g. Chili’s) (no drive-thru) (added)
  • Bistro/fine dining
  • Quality home furnishings
  • Antiques
  • Bookstore
  • Interior design/decoration
  • Jewelry store
  • Medical or dental practice
  • Optometrist
  • Pet grooming
  • Shipping store without US Post Office
  • Beauty salon


General office use to include:


  • insurance or real estate
  • business management consulting
  • accountant
  • bookkeeper
  • lawyer
  • architect
  • engineer
  • travel agency
  • investment
  • brokerage house.


(2). The following uses (regardless of zoning designation) shall not be allowed on the BRPOC site as commercial neighborhood shops and service-related businesses.


  • Adult entertainment
  • Clubs & lodges
  • Dry Cleaner
  • Boarding House
  • Entertainment Outdoors
  • Townhouse (semi-attached, roof deck, stacked)
  • Asphalt Batching Plant or other industrial facility
  • Multi-Family (multiplex, apartment)
  • Upper story/attached residential
  • All passenger terminals except limited airport, heliport
  • Stormwater facility in different zoning district than principal use
  • Indoor recreation except bars are permitted/limited
  • Extreme sports facility
  • Bar/tavern
  • Veterinary clinic
  • Pet Boarding or resort
  • Firing or archery range, indoor or outdoor
  • All commercial parking
  • Drive-thru retail sales or service
  • Package store
  • Vehicle parts and accessories
  • Retail lumber and building supplies
  • All self-service storage
  • Car wash, full or self-service
  • All light industrial service
  • All warehouse and freight movement, except stockpiling of sand and gravel


6. Covenants to run with the Title to the Property and Conservation Area.


7. Provisions for Enforcement, Amendment, Effective Date and Duration will mirror those of the “Declaration of Covenants and Restrictions Restricting Development and Land Uses” for the Bee Ridge Extension Publix Plaza Covenant of 2004.


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Fischer-Dailey Response to Lake Sarasota Initiative: July 25, 2014


Dear . . . Lake Sarasota Community Group,
After review of proposed covenants for Bee Ridge Park and consideration for the two neighborhood workshops and additional meeting with Lake Sarasota Community Group, please accept the following.
In relation to lighting, setbacks, signage and landscaping for the CN portion of Bee Ridge Park of Commerce, the Terracap Company will build a project that meets or exceeds all standards of the Commercial Neighborhood zoning ordinance and Sarasota County land development regulations.
In relation to permitted uses in the CN zoning ordinance, please accept the following list of uses that will be prohibited.
  1. Adult Entertainment
  2. Outdoor Rifle Range
  3. Outdoor Entertainment (no bands)
  4. Dog Track
  5. Horse Track
  6. Jai Alai Fronton
  7. Bus Station (all commercial passenger terminals)
  8. Transmission Tower
The Terracap Company does hereby commit to a 50 foot buffer fronting the Commercial Neighborhood zoning on Bee Ridge Road.
All the best,
Peter M. Dailey
Richard M Fischer


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