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Posted 1-30-08
“We the People”

On Tuesday, November 14th, I attended my first Fruitville-210 Community Alliance meeting.  This was the fifth meeting of this newly formed homeowners association, founded by John Krotec.  It was wonderful to meet and listen to approximately thirty-five other concerned homeowners and to hear the American spirit speaking as “we the people”.

Each of us was asked to share both benefits and concerns regarding our respective neighborhoods.  There was a general consensus that we were very fortunate to be living the American dream.  The dream that had been created for us by the founders of this great country and perpetuated through the heroic defenders of  “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.  It seems now that the boundaries Americans need to defend have moved to protecting the American dream.  A commercializing that reflects the interests of a very few, is invading our neighborhoods.  It has been called “growth” by the powers that be, but we see these commercial interests eroding the carefully cultivated quality of life established in our neighborhoods.  For the homeowner, “growth” must reflect the interests of everyone, improving the quality of life for all.

Fortunately, now, we have a forum for “we the people” to express our concerns- through the group process of the Fruitville-210 Community Alliance.  As residents, it is our civic responsibility to preserve, protect, and defend our quality of life, so we can pass the legacy of the American Dream on to the next generation.

I invite all concerned homeowners to join the homeowners alliance, so “we the people” can defend our neighborhood communities.

Respectively submitted by
Mona Baker
Resident of Cedar Hammock
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Read Jon Thaxton’s thought provoking guest column in Herald Tribune on the misuse of the term smart growth to hide dumb growth. Smart Growth label is often misused, resulting in more sprawl - Dateline Florida /Dec. 6, 2006
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"We the People"

   Though my roots are in the heartland of Nebraska I have been fortunate enough to live in the four corners of our great nation.  I have seen many changes take place
in many varied neighborhoods and learned that those changes were controlled by the participation or non-participation of the people who lived in those neighborhoods.                                      READ more . . .
Posted 12-30-06
“Fires of Adversity”
   We have a lot for which to be thankful.  We live in a part of Sarasota that has been painstakingly built-up by County planners into
a corridor with a nice blend of developments.  Currently, those of us living in the Fruitville/Exit 210 area, enjoy a wonderful mix of residential neighborhoods, commercial centers, restaurants, and service-related businesses.  Plans are in the works to improve some of our local
roads to accommodate the new traffic that the evolutionary development has brought.  We all hope that the progress and prosperity continues to enhance our lifestyle.  However, unless monitored, we might be faced with projects that do not fit the general character of our community.  Projects that bring tremendous amounts of traffic that current infrastructure cannot handle, will adversely affect public safety.  Projects that
have the potential of putting existing businesses out-of-business will reduce our choices as consumers and change the current lifestyle that we enjoy.  Projects that operate on a 24-hour basis will bring more traffic, more noise, more light pollution, and more people into our neighborhoods at all hours of the day.
The aforementioned types of projects are those that we must keep an eye on.  We can be a part of the developmental process in our community if we sacrifice just a little time.
   In 1774, John Adams, a British colonist left his wife, Abigail and their four children on the family farm in Braintree, Massachusetts.  He embarked on an important journey to Philadelphia to join the newly-organized Continental Congress—a small group of visionary colonists
who believed that freedom from tyranny would only be realized if they sought independence from England.  An act viewed as treason, punishable by death.  Despite the risks, all of those who signed the Declaration of Independence believed the cause was worth it.  They had sacrificed everything, including their families.  In fact, during the first fourteen years of marriage, John and Abigail would be apart for nearly
half that time because of his commitment to their cause.  Abigail knew her husband was on a necessary course.  Her commitment to that course is often overshadowed.  Thousands of other women like Abigail made the same sacrifice which allowed their loved ones the time to continue the struggle for independence.
   History would show that their struggle was not in vain.  With unwavering determination, steadfast loyalty, and indomitable will, John Adams and his fellow countrymen won a bloody revolution against a tyrannical superpower.  Adams, once described as “reckless, hot-headed, and obnoxious”, was to return to England to meet the king, who just years earlier would have seen Adams and his band of patriots swing from the gallows.  John Adams and Abigail met the King of England.  They were not subservient subjects of the crown but an American emissary and wife representing the world’s youngest nation.  Upon his return to America, John Adams was greeted and hailed as a hero when he sailed
into Boston Harbor.  His hard work and determination had paid off.  John Adams would later become the second president of the new
   The Continental Congress and its members exemplified the early American spirit of sacrifice. They were true patriots who sacrificed everything in their struggle for freedom which would bring a better way of life.  Adams was quoted as saying, “People and nations are forged
in the fires of adversity.”  Today, we simply cannot forget the dangerous journey that these early Americans took.  If they had not embarked,
we would not have the luxuries and benefits that we enjoy these days. 
   John Adams believed that the struggle between individualism and corporate authority was always present.  Today, we see that same struggle.  Corporate authority threatens the American way of life.  The only way to have a victory over domineering corporate authority is to sacrifice.  When we face ourselves in the mirror, we should ask ourselves, “Do we truly appreciate the sacrifices that those early American patriots made?”  The time is now.  We must involve ourselves in the process.  Our community needs us.  We can call it our civic sacrifice but with one major difference—we won’t lose of lives for our involvement.  But, certainly, if we don’t participate, we could lose our way of life.  Together, as a unified body of like-minded neighbors, we can show leadership and set a standard for others to follow.  We can be citizens
that would make John and Abigail proud.
   In their desire to have independence and a better way of life, John and Abigail along with thousands of other colonists risked their lives, families, and fortunes.  In our desire to maintain the way of life that they afforded us, we should be willing to risk a little time.  It’s the least
we can do.  It’s our “fire of adversity.”

John Krotec
Chair, Fruitville 210 Community Alliance
Posted 6-07-07
EXIT 210
East County
page 6A

An article
about the Fruitville 210
"Election doesn't
  spell doom
  for business"
  by Eric Ernst
  Sarasotar Hearald
  Tribune 11-09-07
  Read HERE
Posted 1-28-07
We the Taxpayers Need Some Relief

  On Tuesday, January 23rd, I had the opportunity of attending the Board of County Commissioner’s meeting in Venice.  One agenda item that was discussed was the issue of raising impact fees on new projects for developers.  Under the Florida Statutes (Section 125.01056), an impact fee is a total or partial reimbursement to a county for the cost of additional facilities of services made necessary as the result of a new development or the expansion of an existing development.      READ more . . .                                                                                    
From the Archives:
Read PDF Article
We are very fortunate to have a group of hard-working dedicated volunteers working for positive change. In my neighborhood of Greystone, Karen Klein put in countless hours working on the Bamboo Homes and Walmart Superstore development efforts, and I am sure there were many times when she wondered if it was all worth it. If you haven’t had the chance to thank Karen, please do!

Now the Fruitville 210 organization is coming together, and I have been tremendously impressed by the organization of the group, the high-quality website and the sincere efforts of John Krotec and the board members to keep the group positively focused on the concerns of our neighbors. If you haven’t attended one of these meetings, you are missing an excellent opportunity to learn what is happening in our corridor, as well as to meet new neighbors.

They can’t do it all alone, however, and there is strength in numbers. We all need to step up to the plate, share our concerns, and focus positively on solutions. 

There is no question that change will continue to occur rapidly in Sarasota. The real question is: What are we going to do about it? Change it or complain later?

Gerry Detweiler, President
Greystone Neighborhood Association
Posted 2-27-07
   I am a smogbird from California.  We don't have smog here (because we don't have 32,000,000 people and mountains) but
I can clearly see that Sarasota County is going and growing through the pangs of development that California went through
forty ~ fifty years ago.  I hope we can learn from the other sunshine state's successes and mistakes.

   Early on, when expansive tracts of houses, like Thomas Ranch, started going up the political leaders in California required the developers to first provide the infrastructure, streets, sewers, schools, fire and police stations.  Development paid for itself and was not a burden on the early birds who already lived there.  The state soon became the most populous and affluent in the nation.

   I moved here to get away from the California congestion.  It will follow me, I know, but I don't think I should have to pay it to. 
I think the developers and future residents should pay for what they are getting.  I hope I paid when I moved here.  The Board of County Commissioners approved the building of another 7,000 homes in Thomas Ranch.  I hope ya'll had the foresight to require the developer to develop the infrastructure before developing the major increase in population.  And I hope ya'll have made sure
that the financing is in place to provide proper and safe infrastructure to between Thomas Ranch and the rest of the county. 

   But before we finance new development I think we should finance reparations to the problems we already have.  River Road, Honore Ave and the Trail, among others, are already overly congested.  Will the new homes and residents of Thomas Ranch, people who will add even more congestion, pay for upgrading of streets and roads that are already overburdened or will they add
to the burden ?  Will we work toward solving our present problems or gutlessly push them off on our children and successors ?     
Harmon Heed
Southpointe Meadows
Fruitiville 210 Community Alliance - Board Member 
"A successful plan learns from others." - an open letter to our County Commissioners
Posted 10-27-07
Posted 11-09-07
In regards, to the recent board of county commissioners' 3-2 vote to allow a land use change to increase density within the Thomas Ranch, I wish to make and ask the following comments and questions:

First, I agree with Commissioner Barbetta's statement that the "property will be developed one way or another." However, with a serious glut of houses in Sarasota County already and foreclosures at an all time high, I fail to see the logic of allowing even more homes to be built.

Secondly, I agree with Commissioner Patterson's assessment that, "It's just a lot of units for an area that is weak on infrastructure." Public safety and quality of life should be the prevailing sentiment when making such important decisions. Lack of proper infrastructure diminishes both of these important public concerns.

Lastly, too much of anything is never good. Instead of bringing more homes to an area that has a major surplus, why not think about other alternatives? Why can't we entice high-tech manufacturers to come to Sarasota and have their high-wage employees purchase a portion of the empty houses that we already have? More empty houses seems counter-productive to wise development decisions.

In closing, sustainability (the "buzz word" of the day) should rule our collective thinking. Every now and then it seems like we throw that concept out the window. I still believe that all concerned parties (citizens, developers, and politicians) can work together to find better solutions to the development challenges that face us. Sadly, we missed the mark on this one.

John Krotec
Chair, Fruitville 210 Community Alliance
Chairman's Letter to the East County Observer
"In Pursuit of the Truth"  Read HERE
From the Opinion Page - Sarasota Herald Tribune 11-25-07:
Posted 11-30-07
Supermajority victory is symbolic

I do not agree with some business owners' views ("Supermajority rattles Sarasota business sector," Nov. 8 Herald-Tribune) about the potential negative impact that the supermajority referendum will have on our local economy. We've lived with a de facto supermajority for 17 years. Since 1990, 137 (out of 143) requests by developers to increase density or intensity to Sarasota County's comprehensive plan have passed with a 4-1 or 5-0 vote. It wasn't called that, but we have had supermajority votes.

The real issues that underlie our current economic strife run deeper. The recent supermajority victory was a strong message to the development and political community: Stop allowing dumb or unsustainable development to be built without benefiting anybody but the builder.

Traffic congestion compromises public safety. Densely populated land strains the environment. Insufficient infra-structure makes it difficult to navigate city and county roadways. Hundreds of unsold or unfinished houses populate
our neighborhoods. Mortgage foreclosures are at an all-time high. The negative impacts of unsustainable development continue to diminish our quality of life.

It is not the de facto supermajority that got us to this point. Speculative investment and poor development decision-making have created our current situation.

Now we should be looking at ways to bring about a consensus among the interested parties: citizens, developers and elected officials. We should look toward the future with new optimism.

Now, the time seems right to agree upon something.

John Krotec
The writer is chairman of the Fruitville 210 Community Alliance and is a small-business owner.
Editorial submitted to the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations:
     Something lately has been drawing me to World War Two history.  For the past several months, I have been reading books about this interesting but terrifying subject.  Perhaps, it is my sense of civic duty or my sense of gratitude that has led me on this insatiable quest (that’s what
my wife calls it) to find out more about our “Americanism.”  In my readings, I have touched upon a common belief that a majority of Americans felt during the Second World War.  It was amazing self-sacrifice and a steadfast perseverance demonstrated by the citizenry that seems to be the reason why our Country was (and I believe is) so great.  Today, unfortunately, when one talks to those on the street about current issues, those attributes seem to be lost.  It has been said that the greatest danger to a democracy is the apathy of its constituents.  My study of history has taught me not to be apathetic.  For the past fifteen months, I have felt compelled to get involved on local issues. 
If I hadn’t, the planned projects for my community would have bombarded my neighborhood with massive amounts of congestive traffic further compromising public safety.  I’ve learned a lot in the process.  It seems that you always see the usual handful of citizens (I call them patriots) at the really important neighborhood meetings.  The others, those we don’t see at these meetings, always seem to have an excuse as to why they are absent.  Perhaps, they have lost faith in our system, or maybe they feel like they really can’t make a difference.

     For those who feel that way, I have an historical example that might help to change their minds. The World War Two story of Privates Ed Herman and Bob Hilliard might be of some inspiration to those who might think they can’t make a difference.  These men, members of the US Army Air Corps, witnessed firsthand the plight of the recently liberated holocaust victims near the French village of St. Ottilien.  Instead of being fed, clothed, housed, and medically tended to by their liberators, the Americans, they were further neglected and ignored.  Even though the war was over, many more succumbed to death while still being interred by the American forces.  In fact, some of the conditions that these liberated holocaust victims continued to experience were not much different than what they had experienced under the Nazis.  Privates Herman and Hilliard managed to get a letter to President Harry Truman about the pathetic conditions that these holocaust prisoners were continuing to endure.  The men who exposed the horrific situation went through tremendous ridicule at all levels.  However, they stayed steadfast in their commitment to help the suffering prisoners.  It took time, but the food and supplies eventually came through. Many prisoners living today credit their survival with the courage and determination of the two American servicemen.

     Privates Ed Herman and Bob Hilliard were not just passive observers of history.  At a time when suffering people dearly needed an outstretched hand, it was these young men who answered the call of their consciences, stuck their neck out, and, in doing so, changed history.  Their story is the power of two, the power and fortitude of two young men who defied the rules and showed the world that ordinary individuals can make a difference.  How many of us can make a similar claim?  How many of us are willing to do so?  All it takes from us is a little time to get involved in the local issues that affect us all.  I’ve been told that as a community leader, I need to get more citizens involved in the process.  That is the message that I am hoping to convey with this historical editorial.  We can make a difference.  Like the patriotic predecessors before us, it takes amazing self-sacrifice and a steadfast commitment to make things better.

John Krotec
Chair, Fruitville 210 Community Alliance
The Power of Two
see Editorials
below . . .
Blame green lobby, not just 'greed'    
    I refer to the letter "Foreign everything keeps us afloat," wherein the writer blames corporate greed solely for the move
of American manufacturing plants to foreign soils. The writer should also have blamed our environmental activists who helped in this movement.
    The tunnel vision of activism has improved the environment
of the U.S. by encouraging the expatriation of our smokestack industries to new locations having little or no interest in environmental problems. Therefore, we can say that they improved the conditions in the U.S. by worsening the environment of the world, as we are seeing today.
    In defense of corporate "greed," it should be noted that a company builds a manufacturing plant to meet the standards existing at the time.
    When, at a later date, the standards are upgraded, it seems logical that the cost of meeting the new standards should be borne by the benefactors of the change. In many cases to date, the benefactor who gains by the change in standards is the public, whose representatives ordered the upgrading to meet technological advances leading to social improvements.
    Activists of all stripes should remember that their tunnel vision keeps them from seeing the big picture.
Richard H. Lowe -  Bradenton
Don't add more local traffic to I-75          
Sarasota Herald - Published Tuesday, April 1, 2008 at 4:30 a.m.

     The alternative proposal for access to the Sarasota County landfill, as advocated by County Commissioner Jon Thaxton, is a poor solution.
    The high volume of traffic on Interstate 75 is frequently discussed. Too much local traffic travels on the interstate because there are not enough local roads to handle the required north-south traffic. This shortsightedness in long-range community planning needs to be corrected. Thaxton's proposal will add more local traffic to the interstate. This is warped thinking!
    The interstate highway system was built for long-range travel. It was not built to serve as a convenient road to be overloaded by local traffic, and it is wrong to propose a local use of I-75; it is not a county road.
    Part of the problem on I-75 is the excessive number of exits from Bradenton to Venice. Some of these exits should be closed to reduce local usage, leaving the on ramps available and open to handle emergencies. New exits should not be built.
    Let's correct the local-use road network and not make additional long-range-planning errors. While I have the utmost respect for Waste Management and the fine job that they do, I have to state that the interstate system was not built for local garbage trucks!
    Sarasota should have considered the need for a road to the landfill a long time ago when it first proposed the site. It should have defined where the road would go, and not permitted the building of suburbs adjacent to it.      John D. Velte - Sarasota
                                   Some Thoughts for “We the People”

     I remember when the growth of small towns and cities in America was determined through and by a consensus of its “we the people” residents. Each town and city had its own unique character from which its
“we the people” residents took its special pride and sense of identity. Growth was managed according to the specific needs and wants of its “we the people” residents.  Growth was slower but steady because it was a
“we the people” response, not a projected aspiration. Buildings were individually designed according to both their respective “we the people” function and character. So they were both inviting and personable, welcoming its “we the people” inside. Stores didn’t have to have hired greeters. They were self-welcoming and inviting to all the “we the people” that entered.

     The growth consensus for the “we the people” debate took place in the town and city halls located in the center of the respective town or city, and followed an established procedural forum. This debate was scheduled to make sure any new building conveyed a sense of the town or city- “we the peoples” authentic character and identity.

     Of course that was then- and now is now.  Sadly, today, most “we  the people” working Americans never get a chance to take part in such debates or planning discussions involving new building construction projects. Outside forces have managed to invade and unfortunately disrupt the “we the people” procedure for growth consensus. Now development is steered by the wind falls of corporatism and its bottom line determination. So we have a cheaper by the dozen building that is brand designed by corporatism to further its own commodity driven aspiration.

     Development, not growth, has invaded like a parasite to homogenize and de-characterize the once vibrant “we the people” identity of our towns and cities all over America. The argument for globalistic homogeny is powered by corporatism.  It is bleeding our towns and cities of their once thriving and authentic “we the people” character and identity.

   Sarasota County is most fortunate to have its Fruitville 210 Community Alliance organization. It is a gathering place for its “we the people” to convene, speak and be heard, so Sarasota grow its “we the people” County.

Respectfully submitted by:

Mona Baker
A Fruitville 210 Community Alliance neighbor
GROUNDED IN FISCAL REALITY  -  Sage words from Sarasota's past        Posted   5-15-08
. . . Our city is the hub of the service industry and everything starts with the independent businessman. He is not necessarily the 'money grabbing' type people often visualize.
- Former Mayor Rita Roehr                                                            Read Sarasota Herald Tribune Article HERE    
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Help to preserve a "quality of life" for the next generation.
More traffic noise suppression should definitely be included in  widening I-75, especially
in the vicinity of apartments in close proximity to the highway, like the San Palermo and Gateway complexes in Sarasota.

I was raised in Southern California, where “freeways” began and interstates are still called “freeways” (except by commuters who call them ‘parking lots‘).  There, where the land cost is high and the rainfall is low, the medians and shoulders are very narrow, often less than a lane’s width.  Sound barrier walls are used to contain the traffic noise and protect the hearing of adjacent residents.  There is no room for sound absorbing landscaping and California has become the concrete canyon capital, a haven for graffiti and heaven for
graffiti artists.

Southern California has also become a cataclysm of road rage.  The drivers are confined to narrow canyons in which the traffic noise reverberates from side to side.  Car radio volume must be increased to be heard.  The canyon walls are covered with hieroglyphics that most English speaking people can’t decipher.

I don’t want Sarasota to become another Southern California.  Our elderly population has enough difficulty hearing while driving.  Their slower driving often irritates younger drivers.  Reading graffiti is a distraction to all drivers and a considerable expense to remove.  We live
in a land of verdant foliage and don’t want to be surrounded by concrete walls.

Here, in Southwest Florida, we have the room for sound absorbing vegetation along our interstates.  I have read the FHA’s criteria for 100’ of vegetation required to adequately suppress sound and I question the validity of that criteria.  Jo & I live almost a mile west of
the interstate.  When the invasive plants were in place we could not hear the I-75 traffic noise.
Now the rush hour noise wakes me every morning.

Here, with our semi-tropical climate, road landscaping maintenance would be minimal, lower mowing costs would offset increased shrubbery and tree maintenance costs and there would be no expense for graffiti removal.    The noise to nearby residents would be diminished and there would be no reverberation of sound from side to side of the highway.  There would be a barrier of impact absorbing vegetation to slow and stop cars that careen off  the road.  And there would be plush, pastoral greenery to view from on or off the highway instead of
stark walls.

Harmon Heed
Southpointe Meadows  
POSTED 2-14-09
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Read the article in the Sarasota Herald Tribune . . . HERE
By G.S. HEFFNER, Guest Columnist
Published: Monday, August 17, 2015 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 14, 2015 at 3:24 p.m.