WEST VILLAGES, Fla. (WWSB) - North Port is one of the fastest growing areas of the Suncoast, and part of its growth is from the section of town known as the West Villages. In fact, this area is expected to grow to about 50,000 residents within the next 10 years. It’s also home to CoolToday Park, The Atlanta Braves Spring Training Facility, worth $140 million.
However, now, some local residents want to separate themselves from the City of North Port. West Villages has consistently been named one of the largest master planned communities in the United States, but they want to be known as their own community, unincorporated within Sarasota County – not part of the City of North Port. It would be just like Siesta Key, Osprey, and Englewood. These communities are also unincorporated within the county.
"The people of our community have the right to petition their government for readdress and to seek the annexation,” Victor Dobrin, West Villages Improvement District Board Member, said.
Dorbin says by redrawing North Port boundaries to exclude West Villages, they will likely save every homeowner thousands of dollars in property taxes. Which residents say, right now, are used unfairly – neglecting West Villagers who already feel isolated from the city they’re a part of. So if this were to happen, what would change?
“Instead of the North Port Police Department, who have to drive six miles to get here, we’ll receive service from Sarasota County Sherriff’s Office who is literally right next door to us. Instead of the trucks who pick up our trash and recycle that say City of North Port, they’ll say Waste Management on them,” John Miesel, a resident in West Villages explained, “When fire trucks or ambulances need to come, they’ll still say Sarasota County EMS because that’s who we get our services from today because North Port doesn’t have the services to support us.”
This discussion was brought up once again during Thursday’s West Villages Improvement District’s meeting. However, some board members say just because they wouldn’t be paying North Port’s cost, doesn’t mean they won’t have to pay the county to make up more of all the services they do receive.
"We have been working on the portion of the property in Sarasota County, and there has been half a million dollars spent just working on that. Quite frankly, a year later, we are no further than we were last year, so can this happen? Possibly, but it’s going to be long. It’s going to be argues. It’s going to be expensive,” said John Luczynski, the Chairman of The West Villages Improvement District, explained.
However, with the support and signatures of about 40% of residents, the west villages political committee is still going to push for this separation from the City of North Port.
"We didn’t ask them to support the annexation. We don’t believe that a limited power, special improvement district has the authority frankly, the legal authority, to take a position on this. They don’t have a dog in this fight. This is an issue between the residents of this community and the City of North Port. Those are the only people involved in this,” said West Villages resident, David Fernstrum.
Residents are planning to bring the petition and the separation proposal to the City of North Port commissioners once public meetings are back in session.