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Selby Gardens returns with revised master plan

STEVE REID
Editor & Publisher
sreid@lbknews.com

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens hopes compromise will spell success when it brings its revised master plan back to City Hall for consideration.

Last year, neighbors fought against a plan that featured a parking garage with a roof top restaurant and what neighbors feared would be a bevy of night-time noisy activity.

This year, Selby has cut the parking structure height by 40 percent and is not seeking a change to the City of Sarasota’s long-range growth plan.

And although Selby still wishes to partner with an operator to run a restaurant, it is proposing a reduction from more than 200 seats to a maximum of 110 seats. Significantly, the new proposal will restrict the restaurant to only be open when the Gardens are open.

The new proposal will first go to the City Planning Board. That board narrowly supported the proposal but the City Commission voted 3-2 last November against the initiative.

Sarasota City Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch was particularly concerned about traffic and the effect the restaurant and garage and overall pattern of traffic would have on neighbors.

One of the main opponents to the Selby plan last year was Bay Point Neighborhood Association. Its numerous members were deeply concerned and packed the commission chambers for more than 40 hours of hearings.

It remains to be seen how the residents will effectively participate since the meeting due to Covid-19 will be held virtually. The Planning Commission hearing to consider Selby’s plan is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 22. The next day has been reserved at the same time, if additional time is needed.

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