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Moran, Maio push Development Industry Showcase on Quad Parcel

Mike Moran and Al Maio – the two commissioners who voted for James Gabbert’s giant, outdoor debris pulverizing plant on the SW Quad parcel – are now pushing a building lobbyist's proposal that would put a builder's showcase there, despite the fact that the proposal violates the Conservation Easement approved for the Quads by the Board in 2020.

M&M were joined by Cutsinger and Ziegler in the 4-1 vote to fast-track the BIA proposal.

Excerpts below are from the 4.29.22 Sarasota News Leader article.


With Detert objecting, County Commission authorizes staff to negotiate with Manatee-Sarasota Business Industry Association to take over Florida House lease and move building

April 28, 2022 by Rachel Brown Hackney, Editor & Publisher

Making the motion, Commissioner Moran calls for ‘plenty of public input’ on proposal during future board meeting

Commissioner Michael Moran this week won the support of his other three colleagues to authorize county staff to start negotiating with the Manatee-Sarasota Business Industry Association over the future of the Florida House.

Formally, Moran specified county talks with the Business Industry Association (MSBIA) “and/or any nonprofit that’s affiliated with [it]” to take over the county’s lease of the 4454 S. Beneva Road site in Sarasota where the Florida House stands. That lease will end on June 30, 2027, county staff has noted.

John Mast, CEO of MSBIA

Further, Moran called for allowing the MSBIA or the nonprofit to move the building before that lease expires.

The MSBIA has created a nonprofit organization called the Building Industry Institute....

The MSBIA proposal in a June 7, 2021 letter from its CEO, Jon Mast, to County Administrator Jonathan Lewis — plus comments from MSBIA board member Teresa Mast, who addressed the commissioners at an Open to the Public comment period during the commission’s Feb. 8 meeting — included the desire to move the Florida House to one of the Quads. Those four county-owned parcels are adjacent to the Celery Fields.

Although the latter area officially is a county stormwater management project, it also is an internationally known bird-watching destination.

In October 2020, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve a conservation easement over the Southwest, Southeast and Northeast Quads, in collaboration with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, which is based in Osprey, and the Sarasota Audubon Society. The MSBIA has shifted its focus to a Southwest Quad site.. . . Detert said she objected to Moran’s motion. “We haven’t had a lot of meetings about it,” she began. “We probably need to.” . . .

She said she believed all of the commissioners have met with MSBIA representatives one-on-one. “You’re kind of writing a motion in favor of one corporation,” she told Moran. ....

When Chair Alan Maio called for the vote on Moran’s motion, Detert repeated her objection to it. The motion passed 4-1.

. . . leaders of the Florida House Institute — which has become Southface Sarasota — have adamantly expressed opposition to the MSBIA proposal.

... former Florida House director Matt Ross, who founded the company Eco$mart, in 1993, stressed to the commissioners during public comments on Feb. 23 that in his 29 years of working with the Florida House, he had “not seen the [MSBIA’s] presence at all.”

When the Florida House suffered through “lean times” in the early 2000s, Ross continued, “Where was the builders’ association? They weren’t there.”






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Notes below on key points - 1. The Board chose to promote one proposal – from a lobby, the Manatee/Sarasota Building Industry Association BIA – over Commissioner Detert’s motion to hear from staff about several options for the Florida House.

2. The BIA Lobby wishes to take for its own use a parcel that was given to the people of Sarasota (via two Environmental Non-profits, Sarasota Audubon and the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast) to protect a bird nesting preserve and to foster community with a civic use – a Sarasota history archive, for example.

3. The BIA Lobby wants to rezone the SW Quad to ILW – Industry, light manufacturing, warehouse – apparently not finding any incompatibility with the Conservation Easement.

4. The county’s own documents and Conservation Easement reflect the fact that the intent of the Conservation Easement was for civic or government use, and use by a private organization is expressly disallowed by its terms.

5. Those who have had long and intimate participation in the Florida House say the Lobby has lied in pretending to have helped the Florida House when it needed it, or taken any interest in it before now.

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