Venice and Sarasota County agree on road deal

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VENICE, Fla. - For years, Sarasota County and the City of Venice have argued about who should be responsible for dozens of roads in the area. It appears the two sides have finally come to an agreement, and it will mean some street signs could soon be changing.

In the Venice area, many only figure out the difference between streets with the blue and the green signs when they need something fixed, like a pot hole.

"Sometimes you will see green on one side the street and blue on the other.” But what does it mean? Even if you live on one you might not know. "To tell you the truth, I've never really paid much attention to who owns what here," says resident Don Robinson.

Despite being located inside the city limits, the streets with the green signs are maintained by Sarasota County. "Where it became confusing is when someone had a problem with the road. We would have to go out first and see who was responsible for fixing it," says Venice mayor John Holic.

Years ago, Venice annexed hundreds of properties into the local municipality. However, for some reason the roads and retention areas leading to them didn't get legally included -- keeping the county on the hook for the upkeep.

County officials have said for years that should not be the case. "It's just one of the details we have not quite ironed out with the city yet. We will be able to do so in a friendly fashion, I am certain," said county commissioner Nora Patterson three years ago.

For the past fifteen years, the city has been sticking to the original deal, saying it would cost them upwards of $50 million to take the roads over. The two sides have argued back and forth. After a decade and a half, last week the county agreeing to the city's plan to take over 11 miles worth of neighborhood streets after they have been resurfaced.

"The county will repave all the roads that they are going to give to us. We will get roads that should last for the next 15 or 20 years, maybe longer," says Holic.

In return the county will take over responsibility of a few larger collector roads, including parts of Laurel and Pinebrook roads.

The city will put a quarter of a million dollars toward improvements there. "We are going to give Pinebrook to them, which is a major feeder road," says Holic.

The county will also help with some stormwater improvements along the way. An agreement for the two local governments but for residents we found they just want to know who to call. "I pay taxes to both, as far as I am concerned; either one or the other."

Now we are told the roads will be handed over when they are resurfaced. The mayor belies it should take about five years before the entire transition is complete

It’s not a 100% done deal yet, though. The city sent the agreement to the county, where county officials agreed with it last week. The city now basically has to make sure no big changes were made and approve it at an upcoming council meeting.