Residents calling for a more detailed study of the impact of a planned bayfront development appear to have gotten their way, as Sarasota City Attorney Bob Fournier says it’s now likely the city will revise its traffic study.
Vue Sarasota Bay, a hotel/condominium project being developed by the Kolter Group, is planned for a property at U.S. 41 and Gulfstream Avenue. Occupants of the nearby Tower Residences at the Ritz-Carlton said the project’s traffic study didn't meet the standards set by the city, but the study was approved in December by the city’s Development Review Committee.
The last remaining city approval the project needed was the signature of Tim Litchet, the city’s director of Neighborhood and Development Services. Although Litchet felt the traffic study met the requirements outlined in the city’s zoning code and comprehensive plan, he held off on granting his approval as the city reexamined the study.
Yesterday, the residents scored a more decisive victory. After a Thursday conference call with city staff and Kimley-Horn and Associates, the group that performed the study, Fournier says it appears the city will ask for a more thorough study. Fournier said the residents’ complaints appeared to have some merit, and that there was value in getting additional information.
“Some of these things arguably are required by the code, and we do have the discretion to ask for things that aren't required in the code,” Fournier said.
One of the complaints outlined by David Gurley, an attorney representing the Ritz Residences, was that the study didn’t measure the project’s impact on the intersection of U.S. 41 and Ritz Carlton Drive. Since people going to Vue Sarasota Bay would most likely use that intersection to enter the property, Gurley said the project therefore didn’t meet the standard the code and comprehensive plan set to study adjacent intersections.
Fournier said that, although it was standard not to perform a capacity analysis at a non-signalized intersection, this particular project — and that particular intersection — created some extenuating circumstances.
“Everybody involved would have to acknowledge it's a busy intersection,” Fournier said. “We want to make sure that the study is complete.”
The city has not yet formally instructed Kimley-Horn to revise the traffic study. Fournier said they would most likely wait until after Monday, when city staff is scheduled to meet with various stakeholders regarding the project. Fournier said he is hopeful that meeting will allow the city to give clear direction to Kimley-Horn, so the next supplement to the traffic study can be the last.
"We want to be very clear about what is desired," Fournier said. "If we don't ask them to do something, we don't want it to be because we forgot — we want it to be because it was considered, and we didn't feel it was necessary."
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