Sarasota County commissioners delivered the third strike against development proposed on the vacant lot at 162 Beach Road Wednesday, and the crowd went wild.
Commissioners unanimously denied the request from Ronald and Sania Allen for a variance to build a three-story single-family home seaward of the Gulf Beach Setback Line, and two setback variances related to the parcel's boundaries. The crowd, mostly made up of Siesta Key residents, applauded the decision after more than 40 minutes of public comments directed against the request.
It 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."
"It's just against my core in America to tell someone how big their house should or should not be," said Commission Chairman Charles Hines, but he opposed the variance because the directly adjacent homes are smaller than the plans presented.