SARASOTA, FLA., - Many say determining land use is one of the most important jobs city officials get to approve. The process usually includes several public hearings and input from the community.
"Our issue is that process wasn't followed," said Sarasota resident Jennifer Koch.
Koch, is speaking about the more than 1,900 parcels of land in the city of Sarasota that were rezoned from residential to commercial without public notification.
"Not one written piece of documentation about this was ever discussed at a public hearing or any meeting," said Koch.
The rezoning occurred in several areas along MLK in Newtown, Tamiami Trail by Hampton Road and on multiple parcels along Fruitville Road. And, Koch says those changes to the city's map that outlines the land use, mysteriously happened overnight.
"It literally changed from orange to red that's the only written proof we have, it's just this mosaic of the city from orange to red that happened some time," added Koch.
City officials were able to trace the changes back to 2008. According to a letter written by the former planning director the move was an unintentional oversight. But, undoing the change is a difficult process. And, one the city does not have to embark on. Legally they did not have to notify the public of the zoning changes, because they were done as part of a seven year Evaluation and Appraisal Report mandated by the state. In the mean time residents are worried commercial developments will spring up in their residential neighborhoods
"If it's an unintentional oversight, even if you are protected by the state, even if you are protected by this mandate, do the right thing. Give us our process lets change it back," said Koch.
City officials are looking into the issue they will make a decision what to do next, at their September commission meeting.