The approval means staff can now allocate time for review of the proposals.
County commissioners on Tuesday took a procedural step toward approving three hotels on Siesta Key, unanimously advancing three out-of-cycle changes to the county’s future land use policy.
The changes pertain to height, density and transient use on the barrier island.
The three hotel proposals were set to be approved without discussion, but Commissioner Christian Ziegler reset them for full consideration. Commissioner Mike Moran clarified the approval means staff will now allocate time for a review and discussion process. It does not mean the projects have the green light to be built.
“The community has plenty of opportunities, including workshops and Planning Commission hearings to be heard,” Moran said.
Before commissioners discussed the out-of-cycle revisions, members of the Siesta Key Coalition, which started in opposition of the hotels, implored commissioners not to move ahead.
Siesta Key Coalition President Mark Spiegel said it is not appropriate for the board to consider the proposals piecemeal and that instead the board should consider the overall impact all three hotels will have on the barrier island.
“Our ask of our county planning department and the board of commissioners is to make this a transparent process,” Spiegel said following the meeting. “We demand a broader consideration of the impact and implications of multiple large-scale hotels on our roads, beaches and neighborhoods. And give us a real seat at the table, like what was done when these policies were enacted.”
Some developers, however, would prefer that the proposals be considered separately.
Mike Holderness, the owner of Siesta Key Beach Resort, said his proposal does not seek any building height increase above the 35 feet currently allowed, just an increased density.
“As you can imagine, we have a lot of developers that would like to come to our area and change what we have and what we’re all about,” Holderness said. “But it does not have to be all or nothing. A better choice than a universal change is one that fits the mold.”
Commissioner Nancy Detert said the commission approved the changes out of cycle to accommodate staff workload.
“These are going to be highly contentious and lots of public input about the substance of the issue,” Detert said. “But that is not what we’re voting on today.”