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Epoch Sarasota
Sarasota Tuesday, Jun. 4, 2019 2 years ago

Hearing set for downtown development appeal

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Today, the city’s Planning Board will consider a resident-initiated challenge of an approved Gulfstream Avenue condominium project.
by: David Conway Deputy Managing Editor

The Planning Board today will hear an appeal contesting city staff’s approval of an 18-story development at 605 S. Gulfstream Ave.

In April, the city announced it had approved Seaward Development’s site plan for Epoch, a 23-unit luxury condo project. Later that month, a coalition of residents living on Gulfstream and Palm Avenue filed an appeal challenging the project. An attorney representing the appellants has argued the development is not compatible with its surroundings.

Representatives for Seaward Development have said the project complies with all building regulations outlined in the city’s zoning code, pointing to staff’s decision to approve the site plan as evidence. The developer said residents are trying to apply a subjective reading of the code’s compatibility standards that go beyond their intended purpose.

“All of these criteria are regulated by other parts of the zoning code and were addressed by Seaward Development and its world-class architects as part of their efforts and intent to be great neighbors and create a great addition to the neighborhood,” the company said in a document distributed ahead of today's meeting.

Residents in the area have been critical of the city’s minimal setback regulations on Palm Avenue, arguing the 2004 building rules clash with the pre-existing character of the streets. Attorney Dan Lobeck, who is representing the appellants, acknowledged Epoch’s setbacks are compliant with the minimums outlined in the code. Still, he argued the compatibility clauses are grounds for the city to reject the project.

In a memo issued ahead of the meeting, City Attorney Robert Fournier said there was a “reasonable likelihood” the Planning Board will not complete the hearing today. The Planning Board will have the authority to decide how long to conduct the hearing tonight and when to schedule another meeting to continue the hearing, if necessary.

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