Hotel Comp Plan amendment remains on hold

| June 1, 2017

By Rachel Hackney

More than five months after representatives of a Siesta Key chiropractor held a neighborhood workshop on the initiative, Sarasota County staff has yet to receive a proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment that would allow hotels on redeveloped land zoned Commercial General (CG) on the barrier islands.

That was the news from Matthew Osterhoudt, director of the county’s Planning and Development Services Department, on May 8 in response to a question.

With Commissioner Nancy Detert in the minority, the County Commission voted 3-1 on Jan. 10 to allow representatives of Dr. Gary Kompothecras to submit the proposed amendment so staff could begin its review of the matter outside the normal May cycle for such initiatives. (Commissioner Charles Hines was absent during the discussion.)

On April 24, a delegation comprising representatives of the Siesta Key Association (SKA), the Siesta Key Condominium Council, the Gulf & Bay Club, the Marina Del Sol condominium complex and Tiffany Sands met individually with four of the five county commissioners to voice their opposition to the potential for new hotel construction on Siesta, Lourdes Ramirez, a past president of both the SKA and the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA), told SNL.

Additionally, she said, the Peppertree complex sent the commissioners a letter voicing its members’ aversion to the proposal.

Only Commissioner Alan Maio, who represents Siesta as part of District 4, declined to talk with the group, Ramirez noted.

In a May 9 telephone interview, Maio explained that Comprehensive Plan amendments tend to morph into requests for zoning changes and land use decisions that entail quasi-judicial public hearings before the County Commission. Board members are not supposed to discuss such issues outside the official public hearing process, they have pointed out. Therefore, even though no Comprehensive Plan amendment is under staff review to make its way to a public hearing, he told SNL, “in an abundance of caution, I did not take the meeting [with the Siesta group].”

Maio added that he had not even checked on the status of the proposal. “I haven’t inquired.”

He certainly did not intend to indicate any disrespect to the members of the April 24 delegation, he pointed out.

In January, Maio heard considerable dissent about the potential for new hotels on the Key when he addressed the Condo Council members during a meeting. Residents of Marina Del Sol, especially, were angry that CG property near their complex might be the focus of Kompothecras’ plans. The rumor at that time was that Kompothecras was eyeing the site of the former Fandango Café on Old Stickney Point Road; it is adjacent to a storage facility at 1260 Old Stickney Point Road, which is owned by a corporation in which Kompothecras is the principal, according to state Division of Corporations records.

SKA Director Joe Volpe, who attended the Dec. 7, 2016 neighborhood workshop on the proposed Comprehensive Plan amendment, told SKA members recently that attorney Charles D. Bailey III of the Williams Parker firm had yet to contact the SKA to ask to address members about the proposal, as Bailey had indicated he would.

In early March, Bailey told SNL that he had nothing new to report about the proposed amendment. He added in an email, “In response to some feedback we received from some Siesta Key stakeholders during and following our neighborhood workshop, we are working to flesh out some of the details of a proposed hotel and seek to refine and clarify the Comprehensive Plan Amendment. We feel doing so will greatly help the discussion. We hope to recommence that discussion in the next few weeks.”

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