Siesta Key merchants and property owners learned of a new zoning rule Tuesday, May 21, during an educational zoning-code workshop. Portable, or A-frame-style signs, which are commonly used on Siesta Key to promote valet parking, restaurant specials and no-parking zones, are now prohibited.
According to Sarasota County Code Enforcement Officer John Lally, regulation of these types of signs was previously determined by whether the sign was promoting a product. But, in a recent decision by zoning administrator Brad Bailey preceding the workshop, all portable signs now fall under the same category, and none is allowed.
The new interpretation of the code was brought to light in the first of several potential future Siesta Key Village Association-hosted workshops in conjunction with Sarasota County staff members. Led by Sarasota County assistant zoning administrator Donna Thompson, the first workshop was intended to ensure all business and property owners were familiar with the zoning code, as outlined by the Siesta Key Overlay District, which was established in 2001 to govern Siesta Key.
SKVA leaders want all new business owners to be informed about what is allowed and prohibited in the overlay district, which encompasses not only the Village, but also as far south as Turtle Beach and as far east as Stickney Point Road and U.S. 41.
Lally, the primary code-enforcement officer on the Key, says that during his three-month absence, which ended in late March, several new businesses emerged on the Key. The meeting was a good way to “get everyone on the same page,” he said.
“This is the code, as it currently exists,” said Kay Kouvatsos, co-owner of Village Café, at the start of the meeting. “In reality, some things might need to be changed in future workshops.”
Several business owners expressed concerns with signs for valet parking and the subsequent parking issues that accompany the service, and some merchants feel the code is too restrictive.
“With all the regulations that have been placed on the Village by the county, for some of us, it seems like the only option is to get sign spinners,” said Michael Regulbuto, owner of Salon Capelli, who has struggled to promote his business while meeting code requirements. “I think maybe we should take another look at the sign regulation.”