As the City Commission debated whether to require annual inspections for a proposed affordable housing complex, the property owner walked out of the hearing, proclaiming the project dead.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor
After city staff, the Planning Board and the overwhelming majority of public commenters offered support for a proposed affordable housing project near downtown Sarasota, the City Commission failed to approve a request that would allow the plans to move forward.
As a result, property owner Harvey Vengroff says he will abandon his effort to construct a 393-unit apartment complex at 2211 Fruitville Road.
The commission’s ruling — or lack thereof — came after a two-hour discussion of a proposed comprehensive plan amendment that would allow for higher density on the nearly 8-acre site. Vengroff has said this proposal would be necessary to make his plans economically feasible. The amendment required a supermajority of four commissioners to gain approval.
The staff and planning board approval came with a series of requirements on the proposal, including caps on building height and unit size. Joe Barnett, the applicant representing Vengroff, said he learned of one additional proposed requirement when the meeting began: a stipulation that would allow city staff to inspect the entirety of the property annually. Staff said the requirement would ensure compliance with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s safe and sanitary housing standards.
This turned out to be the sticking point for Vengroff and the commission. Although he said he was willing to allow inspections of the property’s external features, such as railings and stairways, he was unwilling to allow the city to conduct internal inspections.
“I do have a problem with you walking into someone’s apartment,” Vengroff said to the commission. “I don’t think that’s where we want to be.”
For complete article, Click Here