The owners of the Siesta Key property at 162 Beach Road are not giving up the fight to build on the never-been-developed lot — just as their legal counsel promised before Sarasota County commissioners denied a variance to do so in April.
Ronald and Sania Allen, owners of the beachside property, have filed a request for relief from the County Commission's decision to deny a coastal setback variance for the lot under the Florida Land Use Environmental Dispute Resolution Act, according to a June 4 memo from County Attorney Stephen DeMarsh.
A Special Magistrate, chosen by both parties, will weigh evidence during a hearing within 45 days of the filing of the request for relief. After the hearing, the mediator may issue recommendations for the county to buy the land, grant the variance, adjust variance standards or tweak the proposed development.
This was the third time since the early 1990s that the County Commission has weighed plans to develop the lot, and each time the petition has been for a smaller structure.
Opponents cited the nearby nesting sites of snowy plovers, the history of flooding on the site and its environment as reasons to deny the request.
"(The Allens) purchased the property assuming the risk of not being able to develop it," said Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick attorney Cathleen O'Dowd, who represented the residents of the Terrace East condominium complex.
But, Icard Merrill attorney William Merrill, who represented the Allens, said denial of the request would constitute a regulatory taking.
"The case law from the United States Supreme Court on down is crystal clear on this," Merrill said. "A regulation which denies all economically beneficial or productive use of land will require compensation under the taking clause."