Roger Sandt, a Siesta Key property owner, said he would spend upward of $100,000 to repair tidal damage and fortify a seawall with rocks. But, he asked Sarasota County to shoulder the cost of permitting and engineer surveys.
Sandt, who owns townhouses on the northeast corner of Siesta Key and is president of the board of directors of the Siesta Town House Association, asked County Commissioner Nora Patterson to consider waiving $3,000 in fees required for a coastal setback variance to add 500 pounds rocks in front of his property’s seawall. He contends that the roughly 60-foot length of concrete was already given permission for the rocks when some were placed at other points on the seawall in 1992.
County commissioners Sept. 11 discussed Sandt’s request, but it was swiftly tabled. Sarasota County Natural Resources staff member Howard Berna said the property was issued a permit 20 years ago for revetment of areas that already contain rock, but that Sandt would need to reapply for a permit to fortify the new area.
Patterson told fellow commissioners that the condominium ownership was scraping together funding and asked if they would consider, due to the circumstances, reducing the fees required to bring the issue before the County Commission for approval.
“This whole thing has been hardened forever,” Patterson said during the meeting — she has been a resident of Siesta since the 1970s.
But the request was denied after objections about its relevance and the precedent it would set were raised.
“I’m a little uncomfortable putting staff in the position to answer a question like that,” said Commissioner Joe Barbetta. “You have an ordinance, and I think we need to comply with it.”
County Administrator Randall Reid said it was inappropriate to have staff present for an issue not included in the agenda.
“We get into this every time (during commissioner reports), and I’m just concerned about it,” Reid said.
“These are highly litigious petitions, and they’re much like a snag in the sweater,” Commissioner Jon Thaxton said, explaining that it may seem like a small issue to waive $3,000 fees but that it could unravel into contentious debate.
Several property owners this year petitioned Sarasota County to vacate a crumbling stretch of Beach Road, which has been damaged by erosion. The group’s plans will also require a coastal setback variance, according to emails from Sarasota County Public Works staff.
The erosion damage is so extensive, county staff estimates a long-term public fix for the roadway will cost between $800,000 and $1 million, but a temporary stabilization is in place.