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Siesta Key Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017 3 years ago

Residents worry a proposed home may limit Siesta Key public beach access

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A property owner with land adjacent to Beach Access 10 plans to build a home there for his family, and the driveway will open onto the public access.
by: Cassidy Alexander Staff Writer

Some Siesta Key residents are concerned about a proposed development cutting off public access to the beach — but the project’s developer said that’s not going to happen.

William Saba, a real estate attorney and developer, wants to build a 1,600-square-foot, three-story home with a pool on Beach Road, adjacent to Public Beach Access 10.

Part of the plans, which have been submitted to the county as part of a Coastal Setback Variance Application, include adding a driveway that opens onto Public Beach Access 10 at Calle de Invierna. This is what Siesta Key resident and property manager Victoria Ochoa opposes.

She’s concerned the driveway will block the public beach access and set a precedent for other developers to do the same elsewhere on the Key.

But Saba claims the beach access is actually a public right of way, designated in the 1960s, the use of which gradually shifted over the years to create a public beach access. He said he isn’t trying to close off the public’s access — just add access to his home.

The view of beach access 10 from the street. At this time, cars can't drive onto the access.
The view of beach access 10 from the street. At this time, cars can't drive onto the access.

“As of right now, I have no access to my property,” Saba said of the land that sits near the 500 block of Beach Road. “There’s no roadway that gets me there.”

The beach access is not accessible to cars. And Saba’s property isn’t accessible from Beach Road. It sits behind an existing home.

County staffers, who are reviewing the placement of the driveway as part of Saba’s application, said it’s premature to get into those details now. It’s something that will be considered by the County Commission, when the application moves forward.

Ochoa is also worried about increasing density on the Key, and its impact on the natural habitat.

She created Save Siesta Key Beach Access 10, a Facebook page with about 100 likes so far, that includes posts that cite lush marshes, low density and open beach space as the reasons Siesta Beach is ranked as the nation's No. 1 beach.

“We need more parks, we don’t need more buildings,” Ochoa said. “I’m not against progress, I’m just against overdevelopment.”

For his part, Saba said he just wants to build a home for himself and his family, preserving and improving the beach access point along the way.

“It’ll have the walkway there for the people to use like they’re using it now, except it’ll be beautiful,” he said.

Saba filed his application in May, and county staff are in the process of reviewing it.

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