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Midnight Pass Road public parking lot project continuing

By Rachel Brown Hackney
SarasotaNewsLeader.com

During the County Commission’s June budget workshops, Commissioner Alan Maio asked whatever had become of the county property located at 6647 S. Midnight Pass Road, which the board members previously had eyed as a possible turnaround spot for the Siesta Key Breeze.

As he recalled, Maio said, the board members had considered that site as a potential location for restrooms and perhaps a kiosk with Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce and other community information and brochures.

Rob Lewis, interim director of Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT), replied that he was not certain, but staff would look into the status of the property, which once housed a training facility for the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and still has a building that encloses a Public Utilities Department water tank.

In response to a request, Kim Francel, the county’s public records coordinator, provided materials in a June 21 email. The documents show that staff has been working on an internal application for a Special Exception to change the portion of the site where the Sheriff’s Office structure stood, with parking spaces, to “public parking only.”

Pre-application materials submitted to the county’s Development Review Committee (DRC) in advance of that group’s May 16 meeting said the 1.83-acre site is zoned Residential Multi-Family (RMF) 1; staff proposes that section of the property retain that zoning designation.

Staff also is seeking to create a public surface parking lot comprising 11,070 square feet, the material said.

The anticipated construction timeline called for the work to begin in July, the document noted, with completion planned in October.

Among DRC member comments about the project, a notation from a SCAT representative explained that the trolley stops at the nearby SCAT stop. “Upon completion of the parking lot, SCAT will move this stop closer/in front of said parking area,” the notation added, referring to the South Midnight Pass Road site.

The amount of impervious area on the parcel is 8,672 square feet, the staff material pointed out. That is proposed to increase to 16,114 square feet. An engineering drawing accompanying the material indicated a mix of concrete and stone would be used to create the parking area.

However, a Zoning Division representative on the DRC explained, “Siesta Key Overlay District does not require paved parking, so alternative surface is permitted.” That notation did point out, though, that the overlay district includes a restriction that puts the maximum impervious lot coverage at 50% in the RMF Zoning District.

Stormwater facilities already are on the property, the document noted, but new facilities would be added.

The following is a sampling of other comments:

• A 10-foot-wide buffer would be required along Midnight Pass Road.

• A 20-foot-wide landscaped buffer with a minimum of 20% opacity would be required between the property and Crescent Plaza to the north.

• “Parking lots shall contain no more than 15 parking spaces in a row without a [10-foot-wide] landscaped island. Each island shall be curbed and contain a large tree.

• “All rows of parking spaces shall terminate in a curbed landscaped island.”

Another DRC member asked about the intended users of the lot, noting that Beach Access 12 is nearby. “Beach visitors? General public? Other?”

In her June 21 email, Francel, the public records coordinator, wrote that the proposed project had not proceeded beyond pre-application status.