Monday, August 29, 2011

Straw poll results put Lakewood Ranch cityhood quest back on the shelf

Jo Anne Dain, Keith Davey and Tom Thomaides lead the quest for incorporation of Lakewood Ranch. (Herald file photo)
LAKEWOOD RANCH -- More than half those who took part in a straw poll on cityhood for Lakewood Ranch opposed incorporation.

The final count submitted to members of the Manatee and Sarasota county legislative delegations showed that 2,349 of 4,154 who voted -- 56.5 percent -- opposed incorporation, according to Kerkering, Barberio & Co., Certified Public Accountants, in a press release this afternoon.

Favoring cityhood were 1,805 voters, or 43.5 percent of voters.

Less than half the 11,961 ballots mailed Aug. 1 were returned to Kerkering, Barberio by the deadline of Aug. 22.

"From the beginning of the incorporation process, our mission was to determine if incorporation was financially feasible and to educate Lakewood Ranch residents about the issue," said Keith Davey of the Lakewood Ranch Incorporation Study Group.

"We have at all times used facts as the basis of our communication process and hoped that residents would see the opportunities in becoming a city and choose this path," Davey said in a statement released after the straw poll results were made public.

"It is clear that the majority of voters participating in the straw poll believe that the time is not right for incorporation. While we are disappointed in the results of the poll, we are at the same time proud that we were able to get a very important discussion started which engaged thousands of residents in the process," Davey said.

Rob Lane, managing partner at Kerkering, Barberio, said his firm was very satisfied with the process.

"We did receive about 200 inquires from residents who had issues with not receiving ballots. Upon analysis, some were not registered voters in Lakewood Ranch, some did not receive forwarded mail and some simply did not receive a ballot. As members of the Lakewood Ranch Community, we have been pleased to provide our independent services to this very important issue," said Lane in a press release.

The Lakewood Ranch Incorporation Study Group will, as promised, be putting its efforts "on the shelf" at this time, Davey said.

"Perhaps the question will come up again in the near future and both the proponents and opponents will have benefited from what has transpired over the past few years. We thank everyone who gave us their support," Davey said.

For more, see Tuesday's Lakewood Ranch Herald.

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