SARASOTA –– Beaches in Sarasota County are now fully reopen. Tennis and pickleball players can enjoy their sports. And now restaurants and retail businesses in the unincorporated county will get some breathing room as well as the county continues to slowly reopen its economy.
Wednesday, county commissioners approved a hastily-drawn resolution regarding temporary use permits that will waive fees and allow these businesses to use space outside to serve their customers.
Specifically, the resolution approved unanimously by commissioners, suspends the fees for temporary use permits for restaurant outdoor dining and outdoor displays at retail businesses. It also suspends building permit fees and after-the-fact fees for “improvements made as a direct result of COVID-19 to promote health, safety and welfare for business reopening.”
The suspension of fees remains in effect until July 31.
Commissioners also received an update on staff’s future plans for further reopening of county facilities from Nicole Rissler, director of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources.
Libraries began offering curbside pickup of materials to patrons this past Monday, while opening these facilities fully still remains under study.
“There was a lot of demand for resources,” Rissler said of the libraries.
Kayak vendors will reopen tomorrow, May 7, while beach concessions will open this coming Saturday.
Playgrounds and dog parks will come soon she added, with hazardous waste drop-off sites, athletic facilities and summer camps will be following.
“There was a ton of time looking forward at what the new normal will be,” Rissler said. She added that a primary consideration in the planning for facilities to be accessible once again is maintaining social distancing and preventing people from congregating.
With Commissioner Christian Ziegler opining that there was a lot of open space at the dog parks, Rissler responded by saying there was more congregating at these parks then you might expect.
As to upcoming holidays over the next two months, Rissler said, “We’re looking at what is the safest mechanism to hold as many of these as possible.”
In another sign of county government returning to normal, after being shut down the past two months, the county’s advisory Planning Commission will meet virtually tomorrow evening. That meeting will be somewhat of a test for the technology that could be utilized for other advisory boards to meet.
Commissioners did agree that these should remained shut down until the end of May but gave County Administrator Jonathan Lewis discretion to handle mission critical meetings on a case by case basis.