Tahiti Park neighborhood upset over commercial land use

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SARASOTA, Fla.- For nearly a year a once residential piece of property, on the corner of North Tamiami and Hampton Road, has been the center of a dispute between the Tahiti Park neighborhood residents and the city.

The president of the Tahiti Park neighborhood association tells us this was a big mistake on the city's part.

Back in 2008, the city of Sarasota did an overhaul of the city's land use map, including almost 2,000 re-classifications. The piece of land next the Tahiti Park neighborhood was reclassified from residential to commercial, and now the public is upset because they were not properly made aware.

“The property had been up for sale for a long time, a really long time, and all of a sudden we see the city sign that goes up. They put posts on there that says, you know, there's going to be a planning board meeting held about a rezone,” said Jennifer Ahearn-Koch.

Jennifer Ahearn-Koch is the president of the neighborhood's association, and she says she spent nearly a year going through thousands of pages and maps to find evidence of the land's reclassified documentation.

“The city cannot come up with one single thing to show us how that land use changed, and that's our biggest evidence; that in thousands and thousands of pages and meetings and charrettes they have nothing,” said Ahearn-Koch.

The land was purchased by Dr. Monica Bendi and her father in 2012 with the intent to build a wellness business.

When we spoke with the city, they explained that since the future land use had been changed then it shouldn't be an issue to go through planning and get the zoning changed as well,” said Dr. Bendi.

Dr. Bendi has faced resistance from the Tahiti Park neighborhood for a year now, and although the land use is classified as commercial, they still must go through the process of commercial rezoning. We reached out to the city commission and the chief planner, who oversaw the land use map in 2008, but no one was available to comment.

Neighbors hope to keep Tahiti Park residential and are speaking the with city to fix what they believe to be an oversight.

“I'm scared because our neighborhood, we're 40 some odd homes, it's a beautiful neighborhood,” said Alan Votta, a resident of Tahiti Park.

It remains unclear how the land will be used. However, the Tahiti Park neighborhood hopes to be able to purchase the land.