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Homeowner wants action from Sarasota County on right-of-way maintenance

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SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - Sarasota County passed an ordinance in 2016 that requires residents to maintain the right-of-ways adjacent to their property. There are exceptions, but some residents say they are having trouble reaching out to the county. 

The sections of land surrounding Susie Kirkwood's home on 47th Street are not on her property; the land is owned by Sarasota County. But because of that new code ordinance, she's in charge of maintaining it.

"I'm absolutely furious," Kirkwood said. "I don't think it's right. I think they should maintain all of the county property that we all pay taxes for; part of our property tax is to maintain county property."

Besides principal, Kirkwood said she physically can't mow the land with the equipment she has.

"I have a riding mower, there's no way," Kirkwood said. "My ditch is steep enough that my mower would tip over if I tried to mow my ditch."

The ordinance allows certain land to be declared an unusual condition, which means it can't be reasonably maintained by the owner or occupant.

Residents can file a written petition to exempt the area and have it maintained by the county after an on-site inspection and approval.

"I called and no one called me back or whatever I need to do, fill out an application or whatever needs to happen. Nobody returned my calls," Kirkwood said, referring to calls she says she made to the county.

Kirkwood decided to send a message to Sarasota County through a sign in her yard, which she said hasn't helped. ABC 7 contacted county representatives who said they do have a recent voicemail from Kirkwood, and they are looking into her individual case. 

They sent ABC 7 this statement: 

"In 2016, the Sarasota County Commission approved a change to the mowing level of service in some residential areas following extensive public outreach. The responsibility of maintaining the rights of way along residential roadways was transferred to adjacent property owners. This change is consistent with existing practices within the cities of Sarasota, Venice and North Port and has resulted in savings of more than $500,000 per year."

If you have county property adjacent to your yard that you can't maintain, you can fill out a Mowing Exemption Request here