Update: The County Commission approved this land use change unanimously, 5-0. If this decision stands it will set a terrible precedent, weakening protections for conservation lands in Sarasota County.
What you can do: Sign the petition (on the top, right column) against turning 43 acres of Pinelands Reserve conservation land into a shooting range. Share it on social media and ask others to sign. If you haven’t written the Commission, you can still send them an e-mail on this issue at firstname.lastname@example.org. Below is my e-mail sent to the Sarasota County Commission on this issue.
Good morning! I may not be able to give public input during agenda item 28 today due to a prior commitment, so I am sending you my written comments.
I urge you to reject the petition to approve Pinelands Reserve conservation land for a shooting range. The petition ought to be rejected for the following reasons:
According to the Comprehensive Plan (Recreational and Open Space Chapter 1), “recreational uses implemented on the Walton Tract [Pinelands Reserve] and T. Mabry Carlton, Jr.Memorial Reserve shall be limited to activties which are ecologically benign, non-consumptive, and resource-based.” This wording is also found in the Sarasota County Land Management Master plan and the Pinelands Reserve management plan. A shooting range on the Pinelands Reserve violates these requirements.
A shooting range employing lead shot and clay pigeons will introduce hazardous substances found to be carginogenic and otherwise toxic. I refer you to the references provided in the correspondence background materials for this agenda item. Such harmful substance are the antithesis of ecologically benign.
A shooting range employing lead shot and clay pigeons will generate significant noise which will discourage or eliminate nesting birds. Not ecologically benign.
Clearing substantial acres of conservation land for a shooting range is neither resource-based, non-consumptive, nor ecologically benign.
The submitted permit fails to include best planned management practices addressing the planned use of lead shot & clay pigeons. The permit itself doesn’t comply with County requirements for approving land use changes.
The submitted application fails to include Disclosure of Ownership form. Again the permit itself doesn’t comply with County requirements for approving land use changes.
The submitted application fails to include an Owner Affidavit form. Again the permit itself doesn’t comply with County requirements for approving land use changes.
The submitted application fails to include a Billable Fee Pay Agreement. Again the permit itself doesn’t comply with County requirements for approving land use changes.
The submitted application fails to indicate that the soil (pineda soil) is subject to flooding/standing water.
This land use change will effectively privatize public land.
It has been reported that the neighborhood workshop held on this issue failed to notify residents that the lands in question are conservation lands, specifically Pinelands Reserve. Today’s agenda item description also fails to identify the land in question as Pinelands Reserve conservation land. This is a substantive omission. Failure to communicate clearly on this subject with the public calls into question the validity of the outcomes of the ensuing meetings.
Is it true that County employees have refrained from bringing these and perhaps other concerns forward regarding the shooting range application for fear of reprisal? Reports of County employee intimidation are reminiscent of the reported “marked for death” County culture which existed under Jim Ley. Will you be initiating an ethic investigation into these concerns? (I refer you to the background correspondence document for this agenda item).
My input is informed by my service on the board of the Council of Neighborhood Associations since 2011, during which time I have studied the Comprehensive Plan and given input to the County Commission regarding land use issues. I have written various columns and guest columns addressing land use issues, as well as blog entries on my website, www.thedetail.net. Thank you for your consideration.