The implication that Sarasota County officials were slow to handle what a developer considered a simple land planning issue was touched on in the Business Observer's recent issue covering Gulf Coast bureaucrats. (See March 1 issue.)
The indirect response from Sarasota County: Don't call us unresponsive.
That's the gist of an email conversation between Sarasota County Administrator Randall Reid and Planning and Development Services Director Thomas Polk. Reid, in a March 1 email, forwarded a story to Polk from the issue and wrote “Please review and explain for me why Carlos's project of median homes will take a year?”
Reid was referring to a statement from Manatee County-based homebuilder Carlos Beruff in the article that compared Reid with Manatee County Administrator Ed Hunzeker. The CEO of Medallion Homes, Beruff says he was told a simple land amendment proposal for a project in Sarasota County could take at least a year — three times longer than many other counties.
Polk, in a March 2 response to Reid, explained some of the project particulars and wrote that “an amendment of this nature would not be viewed as a minor modification.”
Nonetheless, Polk did address the general issue of Sarasota County's responsiveness to businesses. “In assisting you with any preparatory information for any further discussion on issues outlined in the article, I will ask on Monday that our staff put together the most recent set of numbers that documents our timeframes for inspections and reviews,” wrote Polk, on projects that include construction, rezones and comprehensive plan amendments. “With regard to customer service, we are comprehensively addressing those improvements.”
Reid, in a response, asks Polk to continue working on improving and developing “our staff's customer service skills.” In the email to Polk, Reid further acknowledges the specific issue Beruff has could get complicated, potentially including a “major change in planning policies at the Commission level and some public dialogue.”
Coffee Talk isn't necessarily surprised at the exchange, especially the idea that the issue could require major changes and dialogue. After all, what would government be, in an issue devoted to bureaucrats, if things weren't complicated?