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Master Plan Proposed for Northwest Sarasota

Vice Mayor Terry Turner wants to see broad long-range planning for the Northwest Sarasota corridor.

Sarasota uses master plans to organize and redevelop neighborhoods whether downtown, for Payne Park or the , and Vice Mayor Terry Turner wants to make sure North Trail gets its own, too.

Turner wants to have a land use and master plan proposal for North Trail to redevelop northwest Sarasota, and wants to engage the public before solid ideas are presented, though he's been doing some research on his own and gaining feedback from groups to see if this is something that's even needed for the community.

He knows that whatever is proposed it needs to do a couple of things:

• Stimulate redevelopment in northwest Sarasota, a 1,021 acre area 

• Have a simple sustainable land use plan that also offers flexibility of uses

• Help redefine the use of U.S. 41 as a transportation corridor  

• Compatible with planned roadway changes and  

• The border would reach the north side of the along University Parkway and reach east to the proposed bus rapid transit line.

• Be supported by residents

"For about six months I've been talking to neighbors and business leaders about taking a broader approach, a bolder approach," Turner said at Tuesday's commission meeting. 

The flexibility part of it, he points to the Pineapple Square development. The market shifted on the developer and now Pineapple Square can have offices, condos or apartments and other uses as the owner sees fit.

As North Sarasota exists now, the demographics and income of the community aren't there to attract a business like

"Our only hope is to create a regulatory environment in which private industry can flourish," Turner said.

The discussion of the plan will resurface in April to allow Commissioner Willie Shaw time to talk to his district's residents about the thought of a master plan for northwest Sarasota. 

An overlay district isn't going to accomplish the same thing as a master plan would, Turner told SRQ Daily:

"He said after the meeting that efforts at an overlay district encouraging growth on the North Trail may not be ambitious enough. 'I have been concerned the overlay district is too narrowly focused and in the end may not make a significant difference,' he said. 'Recently, there was a decision to make it optional, and I understand that decision, but I think it reduced the chances it will make a meaningful change.'" 

Turner's idea has received the blessing of the board of directors, said its chairman Jay Patel.

"You're looking at a complex area," Patel said. "North Trail has always been looked at as one small strip in the past. So many studies but nothing has worked so far."

Turner has a rough sketch of how the process should work, but he's emphasizing that there ought to be ways to have the public have their say up front and throughout so there's an agreeable plan that's released instead of coming up with a plan and having residents give their say after the fact.

 "I purposely have not provided a solution here. … they say what's it going to look like," Turner said.

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