After a Nov. 15 public hearing that lasted about five hours, the Sarasota Planning Commission voted 5-2 to recommend that the County Commission approve the Critical Area Plan, rezoning and special exceptions necessary to create the mixed-use Siesta Promenade project at the northwest corner of Stickney Point Road and U.S. 41.
Most commissioners said they felt the project was exactly the type of “infill” development that the county had been seeking for years. The proposal for 414 apartments/condominiums, a 130-room hotel and 140,000 square feet of retail and office space would stand on about 24 acres amid other commercial development.
Only Commissioners Laura Benson and Robert Morris said they felt that the project, as designed, was too intense for its location. Morris, especially, cited concerns about the traffic congestion already common at the intersection. “I’ve got a real problem with exacerbating that problem,” he said.
A quote from Gene Kusekoski, President of the Siesta Key Association following the meeting; “I am disappointed that five hours of opposing testimony had no apparent effect on the Planning Commission’s decision. We can only hope the Board of County Commissioners are more inclined to take the welfare of the people who live and work in this area into account. When the BCC voted to let the CAP proceed, it was supposed to be to ensure a higher level of scrutiny for the proposal. They now have the opportunity to show they were serious about realistically considering the potential impact on the area and the people. The commissioners have three options — deny, approve, or approve with changes. We sincerely hope they will either approve with changes to mitigate the impact on the neighborhood and roadways or revert the project to standard rezoning processes.”