Commercial Development vs High Density Residential - What Does North Port Need

Op Ed by Carmine Miranda

Since 2021 to present, I’ve heard the talk about growing the commercial tax base and bringing skilled jobs to North Port!

It is well known that commercial / non residential land is limited due to early 1960’s platting!

As a result, the city has committed taxpayer dollars for the infrastructure improvements on Toledo Blade and Sumter Blvds per the Camoine study!

The city was recently awarded the Florida Job Growth Infrastructure Grant, for one million-six hundred ninety thousand dollars ($1,690,000.00) for a utility extension north of I-75 along Toledo Blade Boulevard. As part of the agreement, the City must certify that at least 1,947 new jobs have been created as a result of the grant project.

Once word got out about the infrastructure improvements, Developers have come out of the woodwork to build high density residential in North Port.

Is this what North Port needs? What happened to growing the commercial tax base and bringing skilled jobs to North Port?

To make matters worse, Tallahassee enacted the ‘Live Local Act’ thereby introducing a land grab of our already limited commercial and light industrial land for affordable housing. The residents nor the commissioners can challenge this or be threatened with a lawsuit!

The area North of I-75 and East of Toledo Blade is now called ‘Innovation Corridor’ to bring Light Industrial, Commercial, Office in a Business Park setting. There are three development projects proposed for this area that are in different stages of approval.

Two of the development projects, Toledo Village and Toledo 320 contain a high density residential component. The Village has 3,598 mixed use residential units while the other has not disclosed the number of units to be built on the 262 acres. Toledo village contains 10 acres of commercial and Toledo 320 contains 55 acres of light industrial.

In fact, the developers of Toledo 320 have stated at the June 29, 2023 public meeting that North Port Gardens, the first approved development (DRI) from a different developer will provide the bulk of the commercial and light industrial requirements so they don’t have to.

Why would this be allowed? Shouldn’t each applicant coming forward be required to include a more robust commercial component and not piggyback off another applicant? Shouldn’t this be a requirement of planning and zoning and the commission especially if the talk is raising the commercial tax base to give property taxpayers some relief and to bring skilled jobs to NP so people can actually live here!

The fact is - the commercial tax base was 5% in 2010! Thirteen going on Fourteen years later it is only 8%. A dismal track record that will no doubt continue if the commission approves the Toledo Blade 320 project!!

There is no turning back once the land is developed!

There is a Commission Meeting at City Hall Chambers on September 26, 2023 at 6:00pm. The Public portion of the meeting will focus on the Toledo 320 ordinances to rezone agricultural estates land to light industrial and high density residential

Ordinance 2023-23 - This rezone amends the future land use from Agricultural, Estates to High Density Residential and Industrial for Toledo 320

Ordinance 2023-25
- This rezones current No Zoning Designation (NZD) to Industrial Light Warehousing District (ILW) for Toledo 320

Ordinance 2023-19 - This is the second reading for Toledo Village. The Comprehensive Plan, Future Land Use Element Goal 5 states the intent of Village zoning allows for (residential 25-40%) (commercial 20-60%) (office 10-25%) (civic 10-25%) and parks/open space (10-no max).

Let’s do the math: With 2086 acres proposed for the entire project and the proposed 10 acres of commercial, this equates to less than 1%! To meet the minimum of 20% commercial it should have 417 acres of Commercial!

How do we grow the commercial tax base if we keep giving away precious land to the developers? 


Show Up - A first Step

An Op Ed by Peter Bartolotta

You hear politicians saying it all the time. “Come to our meetings, ask questions, give your input; Go on the website and read the budget; Send me an email or text message; I want to hear from you.” It always sounds so simple, but the reality is it takes some work. However like all things that take time and hard work it all begins with the first step which is typically not so tough. So let’s take that first step together. Talk to a family member, friend, neighbor or a business associate. Let them become your learning buddy. Here are three simple ways for you and your buddy to start.

1. Visit the city’s website which focuses on transparency. Get a look at city attractions like Warm Mineral Springs, NP Aquatic Center, and more; Find out about your water bill, trash pickup and recycling, permitting and more. See the performance dashboards which show how each department is doing as it relates to the department's goals. It’s all there on the city’s new website www.north port

2. Check out some positive social media sites such as North Port Forward, North P.O.R.T. , North Port Neighbors, RealTalk97.5, to name a few.

3. Have an eye opening experience about North Port and its future. Meet with a city employee. Ask them any questions you want and find out how they feel about North Port. The answers may surprise you. I can guarantee it will be totally different from what you read on social media from the naysayers. You may actually want to learn more about our fantastic city.

4. Attend a North Port Forward event, where you can meet the City Manager, Department Directors and Commissioners all at the same time. Great event for those of you who have limited time.

5. Meet privately with a commissioner, better yet meet individually with all of them. Learn their views from the source, not hearsay or negative social media.

Learning about your city is the first step and it makes all the future steps so much easier. Have fun along the way and learn to love your city for all its great assets. It will change your life in a positive way, and who knows, you may make a difference in North Port’s future. All because you took the first step.

Have a great day!
Peter Bartolotta
[email protected]
Cell: 941.626.1772


Protect our Land Use Codes

Op Ed 
by Carmine Miranda

I felt the need to write this Op Ed to keep our residents informed about a concern I share with many city residents. Specifically, it is the special exception petition SPX-22-123 to change the current ‘OPI’ Land Use Code  (Office, Professional, Institutional) to Multi Family (M/F) on an 11.7 Acre tract of land off Sumter Boulevard and Pocatella Avenue.

The Commission Meeting will be held on January 10, 2023 @ 10:00am in Commission Chambers

The lawyers for this special exception state that the Comprehensive Plan and ULDC provides that any use not explicitly permitted nor expressly prohibited in the OPI zoning district, may file for a special exception.  This precedent could have far reaching negative impacts to any current land use codes assigned today.

This means any zoned parcel in the City is subject to a special exception unless zoning specifies what code is permitted or prohibited.  Having a code like OPI specifies it is Office, Professional and Institutional.  Doesn’t OPI explicitly permit or expressly prohibit any code other than OPI?  I THINK IT CLEARLY SPELLS IT OUT. 

With a city forecast for explosive growth, the time is Now to protect the land use codes that support the Six Strategic Planning Pillars. There are three growth areas of vital importance contained in the Six Strategic Planning Pillars
1. Bring skilled jobs to North Port
2. Grow the Commercial Tax base
3. Preserve the Environment 

The North Port Staff Report highlights the benefits of the OPI land use vs the Multi-Family land use for this special exception in the documentation “Comprehensive Plan - Chapter 2 - Future Land Use”. 


I also researched the City’s Development Viewer and have determined that there are 9,248 residential units proposed for North Port. 4004 are Single Family homes while 5,244 are Multi- Family homes. One large project with 500+ acres did not provide a total of homes proposed that will no doubt add to this count. 

There is no shortage of Multi-Family homes being proposed and many of these are part of a larger well thought out residential community development plan to incorporate Multi-Family units. 

I feel very strongly about keeping with the Six Strategic Planning Pillars, and staying focused to ensure our Comprehensive Plan, ULDC and Land Use Codes support these goals in developing our growing beautiful city. 

I hope you feel the same way and come to the Commission Chambers on Tuesday, January 10, 2023 at 10:00am.


Referendums on the Ballot. Vote to Make Your Voice Heard

Op Ed by Carmine Miranda

We’ve been hearing about the One Cent Surtax referendum since October 2021 leading up to the anticipation of the November 8, 2022 elections.

Well here we are, the day early voting begins!

Hopefully county residents have attended the many County, City and Chamber events / workshops and have read pamphlet materials to understand the importance placed on this referendum by the County, City of North Port and residents.

This is not a new tax. The first Surtax was approved in 1989. It is not to be used for daily operating expenses. It is to be used for Capital Improvement Projects such as Infrastructure, Road & Drainage, Police and Fire protective equipment, Fire and Police stations, libraries and parks.

Over the next l5 years it is projected that the city of North Port will receive more than $300 million in revenue from the one-cent surtax.

Visitors to the County / City contribute approximately 20-25% of the Surtax dollars collected. As a taxpayer myself, I appreciate the additional dollars from visitors!

We recently experienced one of the worst Hurricanes to hit Florida. We learned about the resilience of North Port residents and our City.

We also learned that Price Boulevard, while needing to be widened, requires re-engineering of its roadway due to several sections collapsing under the intense water pressure passing under the roadway.

The City of North Port has proposed a referendum for residents to vote for issuance of a One-Cent Sales Tax Bond. This Bond is dependent on passage of the County
Referendum to extend the One-Cent Sales Tax. Monies from the One-Cent Sales Tax will be applied to pay down the bond debt.

There are Two referendums (Taken from The Official Sample Ballot) to consider listed here:
1. County Referendum to continue funding for local improvements through renewal of one-cent sales tax; maintains citizen oversight committees. To improve public safety, protect water quality and the environment, reduce traffic congestion and fund projects relating to local schools, parks, libraries and other community needs, should the current one-cent sales tax, paid by visitors and residents, be continued through December 31, 2039. The Citizen Tax Oversight Committees will continue to oversee all expenditures and a 4/5ths vote of the County Commission is required to modify county projects or allocations.

2. North Port City Referendum to Finance Price Boulevard Widening Project through Issuance of Voter-Approved One-Cent Sales Tax Bonds. To finance the Price Boulevard widening project, shall the City of North Port be authorized to issue bonds in one or more series payable from one-cent sales tax proceeds on a total aggregate principal amount not to exceed eighty million dollars, maturing by December 31, 2039 bearing interest not exceeding the maximum lawful rate? Bonds are dependent on approval of one-cent sales tax renewal above.

Your vote is your voice so please come out and VOTE !


Bring on the New Year! Bring on the Referendums!

An Op Ed by Carmine Miranda

On March 8, 2022 the County Charter Referendum is on the ballot.
This Charter Amendment sought by Sarasota County Commissioners is to overturn Single Member District (SMD) Voting for electing County Commissioners and changing it back to County-Wide Voting!

What does this mean for Sarasota County Voters

Single Member District Voting for County Commissioners gives your vote to the Commissioner who is representing your District for greater accountability to the voters in your District.

County-Wide Voting allows for voters outside of your District to decide who your Commissioner will be with less accountability to the voters in your District. 

In fact, Big Money interests donate thousands to Candidate Campaigns in hopes of receiving preferential treatment and to reap Millions in return, causing candidates to serve private interests vs public interests!

Under County-Wide Voting, candidates not affiliated with Big money must raise even more funding on their own to run a campaign, thereby eliminating some highly qualified candidates due to lesser funding.

On December 7, 2021 the County Commissioners designated a special election to repeal Single Member District Voting even though Sarasota voters came out and approved SMD’s by 60% across all five Districts in 2018! 

At the public meeting the public overwhelmingly spoke in favor of keeping Single Member Districts!

Commissioner Maio accused voters of being confused when voting in 2018.

Commissioner Moran offered it must have been Sly Operatives who fooled a gullible electorate into voting for it.

Commissioner Detert said ‘I’ve never liked Single Member Districts but I’m getting tired of trying to save people from themselves.’

Once public comment was over , Commissioners voted 5-0 in favor of going forward with the March Amendment.

Is this the kind of representation we want or need in Sarasota County?

IMHO, Come out and vote NO against the Charter Amendment that wants to change County Commissioner Elections to County-Wide Voting!


Is Drinking Water Important to You?
An Editorial by Carmine Miranda

We are all aware that without this precious resource the human race wouldn’t last very long. The same
can be said of animals and plants. H2O constitutes one of the building blocks necessary for life to thrive.

Every so often the concern for Quality Drinking Water becomes a hot topic. As quickly as it does it
quietly gets put on the back burner. Developers, lobbyists, corporate America buy influence to
circumvent regulations that threaten this precious resource. All of the reasons given are only to protect
their investments followed by the narrative that what they are doing is safe and in our best interests!
We are at a crossroads here in Florida with thousands of people moving to this great State on a daily

NOW is the time to put some teeth behind the House and Senate Bills advocating for the Governors
Clean Water Act.

The purpose and urgency of this writing is based on an article that appeared in the February 3-9
publication of the Charlotte County Florida Weekly. The article is titled Flush With Power by Roger

The article is based on how the legislature, 160 men and women (40 Senators and 120
Representatives), are tasked with how to allocate funding from this years record-setting state budget
in Five (5) Weeks! Yes you read that right! Five (5) weeks to Allocate Funds from this years record-
setting State Budget on the issues and challenges facing our State.

The clock already started in mid January so WE must act quickly to write , email and /or call our
Senators and Representatives to give Water Quality top priority!

I have attached the following links to help identify your senators/representatives based on your
addresses. These links can be used for the entire state of Florida so please share with friends and
family throughout this great State. The bigger the response the better!

Also, included below is a sample letter you can use. Just copy and paste, update with your
Representative / Senator name and address as well as your name, address, phone and email.
Please feel free to send a Letter, Email or Call.

Sample letter

February 9, 2022

The Honorable (Representatives Name)
United States House of Representatives/Senate
(The Representatives Address)

Dear (Representative/Senator Insert Name),
I am writing this letter to request your support for the following issue that is of great importance to me and all Floridians. I have lived in your district/state for ( ) years
and vote regularly in elections.
I refer to the February 3-9, 2022 article in the Charlotte County Florida Weekly Publication titled Flush with Power. In the State Legislature, 40 Senators and 120 Representatives are tasked with allocating funds from this years record-setting state budget within five weeks.
There are many challenges to be addressed in our State but one deserves our utmost attention and urgency. Water quality and the degradation of our environment are on the minds of many Floridians. The future of Florida depends on clean water otherwise Florida can’t function or move forward especially with 1,000 people moving to our great state on a daily basis. I applaud the actions taken by Governor DeSantis for the major water policy reforms put in place. The legislature this session has an unprecedented opportunity to back those reforms with this record-setting state budget. If not now then when?
I would greatly appreciate your consideration and support in making water quality a top priority and affording a commensurate budget to get this accomplished. This is
extremely important to me, my family and everyone in the great state of Florida.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

(Your Name)
(Your Phone, Email, or Address)


Cut your nose to spite your face!

 Op Ed by Carmine Miranda

I’m sure many of you have heard this phrase ad nauseam in your lifetime. What does it mean? Don’t overreact and do something in anger that is more harmful to you than others.

The Sarasota School Board has placed a referendum on the ballot for a vote on March 8, 2022 to continue the 1 MIL Ad Valorem Tax that helps fund school operations, recruitment & retention of quality teachers, implementing & preserving educational programs, providing textbooks, technology and other resources to schools throughout the County.
Expenditure oversight is carried out by an Independent Citizens Financial Oversight Committee.

Some comments have surfaced against the tax.

I’ve included them here: ‘I’m not going to vote for this tax because I don’t appreciate being told I have no say in what my child learns or I don’t like how the school board handles and spends these tax dollars.’

Trying to get back at the school board and voting against the 1 MIL Ad Valorem tax only hurts the school children and the teachers throughout Sarasota County.

The school board is complicit in the parents frustration as well. Scheduling school board meetings at 9:00 am isn’t inclusive to parents who work. The newly proposed, yet to be voted on proposal to limit public comment from 3 minutes to 2 minutes per person and cutting off all comments after the one hour mark isn’t inclusive and leaves all County residents feeling the School Board doesn’t care about parents and taxpayers thoughts on children education in Sarasota County.

So instead of Residents and School Board Members acting out against each other (cutting your nose), wouldn’t it be better to work together and figure out how to make the student / teacher experience the best it can be.

Get involved, attend meetings, do your research and ask questions to get educated on the issues, get educated on candidates running for the school board and let your voice be heard by registering to vote and showing up at the ballot box.

IMHO, On March 8, 2022 show up to vote for the continuation of the 1 MIL Ad Valorem Tax to help the students and the teachers (don’t spite your face).

Click this link for more information:

Stay on top of what is going on in North Port! Visit our website:

Want to help us get the information out to the citizens of North Port? Would you like to become a Board member? If so, write us at: northportfo[email protected] or call us at: 941-888-0134 and leave a message


To Surtax or Not

Op Ed by Carmine Miranda

This year the push from Sarasota County and it’s surrounding cities are all about extending the Penny Tax. You know the 1% added to Florida’s Sales Tax Rate of 6%.

Many County wide residents have no idea what the Penny Tax is or what it is used for. 

Some do and realize tourists and other neighboring county residents come into Sarasota County and it’s surrounding cities to spend their hard earned dollars. They buy automobiles, rent homes or stay in hotels to enjoy our beautiful beaches, lakes and canals. Many have a winter home here. They frequent restaurants and shops throughout the County. They purchase household goods and services, clothing and groceries.

It’s like bonus money because it comes from outside of our County.  It no doubt comes from other hard working tax payers that help take some of the burden off of Sarasota County property owners. It has been stated that each Surtax dollar received by the County is approximately 20% visitor vs 80% resident. A big shout out to our county residents who spend money in Sarasota.

The County and it’s City Governments have a huge responsibility to use this money responsibility. It is not to be used for daily operating expenses. It is to be used for Capital Improvement Projects such as Infrastructure, Road & Drainage, Police and Fire protective equipment, Fire and Police stations, libraries and parks.

The County and it’s Cities have come to rely on this infusion of tax dollars each year. It should be taken under consideration that this money could be reduced or even disappear with incidents we experienced in 2018 and 2020.  Red Tide and fish kills nearly wiped out tourism as we know it. The same could be said for 2020 with Covid19.

So with that said our elected officials need to be responsible in handling Surtax Dollars as well as Property Tax Dollars. One way the County Government can be responsible is by being fully transparent. County residents have been told the largest city by population receives a bigger share of the Surtax dollars. But is this true? Sarasota County is made up of cities (North Port, Venice, City of Sarasota, Town of Longboat Key) and Unincorporated Sarasota. Unincorporated Sarasota represents the largest population in the County.

In an effort to be transparent, the County should provide the total surtax amount the county received and what each City received over the last five years and how this is calculated. I thought five would be a good number but it could easily be the last ten or fifteen years. In addition, it would be transparent to know what Capital Improvement Projects were submitted by Cities and their residents. Since the County decides what projects move ahead it would be transparent to know the projects that made the list as well as the ones that didn’t make the list but could be viable for consideration today. It would also be transparent to know what course of action the County and Cities would take if the Penny Tax is voted down.
Will Capital Improvement Projects be put on hold or re-prioritized? 
Will County and or City property taxes be increased to make up for the shortfall? 
How do you feel about losing the tourist/visitor portion of the Penny Tax?

City of North Port is conducting a Surtax Meeting on November 8, 2021 at City Hall Chambers from 5:30 pm to 7:00pm.

We invite the community to show up and ask for transparency.