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South Key residents were alarmed over the New Year’s holiday when they saw residents building a concrete wall on top of a seawall at Point of Rocks Circle. The wall was removed after county staff intervened. Courtesy photos.
Siesta Key Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012 6 years ago

Island Beat: County officials quickly handle a zoning violation

by: Rachel Brown Hackney Managing Editor

Thanks to quick action from the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office and Sarasota County staff, a serious zoning violation was halted near Point of Rocks during the New Year’s celebration, Siesta Key Association President Catherine Luckner told members during their Jan. 5 regular meeting.

An SKA member had emailed Luckner, she said, while someone else had called the Sheriff’s Office, after seeing two property owners trying to construct a concrete wall on top of a seawall, “blocking people from being able to walk around the point.”

Matt Osterhoudt, manager of the county’s Natural Resources Department, went to investigate, Luckner said, and made sure the wall was removed.

Luckner provided me a copy of an email Osterhoudt sent her Jan. 3. It said the concrete wall was constructed between 7120 and 7128 Point of Rocks Circle.

“No county authorization was obtained for the wall, and it is inconsistent with the provisions of the Coastal Setback Ordinance,” he wrote.

Someone also placed a sign at the site, indicating that the area down to the water was all private property, Luckner told the 20 audience members.

Regular Pelican readers will recall that a similar private-property dispute arose last year on the north end of Beach Road. At that time, the County Attorney’s Office issued a ruling pointing out that all property from the mean high-water line down to the Gulf of Mexico is public property; anything above that line is private property.

As in that case, the County Attorney’s Office become involved in this dispute.

People visiting the Key and residents down for the holidays had expressed fear, Luckner said, that they would be harassed if they tried to walk around the property while the sign was up.

The matter of the concrete wall “was handled very well, very quickly, on many people’s days off,” Luckner said. “It was a very serious violation.”

Osterhoudt reported Monday that because the wall had been removed, he considered the matter closed.

New members wanted
The SKA will hold its annual meeting from 8 to 11 a.m. March 10, in the Community Center at St. Boniface Episcopal Church, 5615 Midnight Pass Road.

Coffee and juice will be available at the outset, Luckner said, for people who arrive early to socialize; breakfast will be served at 9 a.m.

Guest speakers will be Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson and John McCarthy, interim executive director of the Community Services Department.

Luckner said McCarthy would tell the attendees the back story about how Siesta Key Public Beach won its No. 1 ranking from Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, aka Dr. Beach, of Florida International University.

When I interviewed McCarthy for our “Delve into 12” edition, McCarthy gave me a few hints about that tale. His presentation should be quite entertaining.

The SKA members also voted Jan. 5, as they did in 2011, to offer two free breakfast tickets per household for its members. However, members must let the organization know if they plan to attend, because the board will have to have a headcount for the caterers. People may visit the SKA’s website,, to sign up for the breakfast.

Board member Deet Jonker, who is in charge of membership services, said every property owner on the Key should have received a membership packet from the SKA. He made a special pitch last week to get more condo owners to join, including those who are snowbirds.

“The more (of those) we have as members,” he said, “the more clout, pardon me, Commissioner, we have with the county,” he said, nodding at Commissioner Nora Patterson, who was in the audience — drawing some chuckles.

Every year, the SKA seemed to lose about 400 members, Jonker added, “but we always seem to gain (that number) back.”

He did not have an exact total of members as of Jan. 5, he said.

Siesta Key Condominium Council board member Helen Clifford, who also is on the SKA board, suggested Jonker or another SKA board member attend the council’s meeting Jan. 17, at Siesta Key Chapel, to make that point. She added that everyone on the SKA board was welcome to attend the council meeting, which will begin with refreshments at 3 p.m.

The council will meet in the church’s Fellowship Hall, on the far right end of the chapel’s campus.
That session will include the presentation of awards to the winners of the council’s holiday lighting contest.

A busier New Year’s Eve
Unlike the Turkey Trot pub crawl Thanksgiving week, the second Santa Stumble in the Village, held Dec. 26, produced no serous problems, according to Siesta Key Association President Russell Matthes and Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chris McGregor.

Nonetheless, Matthes said, it was well attended.

New Year’s Eve was busier than usual in the Village, Matthes said, likely because the Sarasota pineapple drop was canceled.

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