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Sarasota Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017 3 years ago

Siesta Key hotel hits roadblock

Kompothecras seeks a legislative solution with the county to proceed with plans for project.
by: Cassidy Alexander Staff Writer

Gary Kompothecras’ proposed hotel on Siesta Key has hit another snag, but land-use attorney Charlie Bailey is hopeful the issue can be resolved legislatively, rather than through litigation.

The problem revolves around a line in the provisions of the Siesta Key Overlay Zoning District, or SKOD, which sets development regulations for the Key.

Bailey and his client, founder of referral service 1-800-ASK-GARY, are challenging a ruling by the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals that upheld an interpretation by a county zoning administrator in July. It was determined that buildings under 35 feet tall must be set back from the street by at least 2 feet. Anything higher requires a setback of at least 25 feet or half the building’s height, whichever is greater.

The rule will determine the footprint of the proposed project, likely on Kompothecras’ property at the end of Old Stickney Point Road. Bailey said without a clear way forward on the setback rule, not even basic details of a proposal can come together.

“There really is no plan,” Bailey said. “There is no site plan for a hotel, no rendering…. My client would much like to bring a boutique hotel — a well-designed, compatible, boutique hotel — to Siesta Key. And this decision on the request made to the BZA was part of the preliminary steps in doing that.”

Now Bailey has appeared before the Board of County Commissioners to ask that they revisit SKOD and clarify the language to make the setback 2 feet, unless the County Commission says otherwise. At the July 12 meeting, Kompothecras complained the Board of Zoning Appeals sided with the zoning administrator’s interpretation because they don’t want a hotel on the Key.

“They were deciding your decision,” he told commissioners.

After hearing from County Attorney Stephen DeMarsh, commissioners instructed county staff to look at what changes could be made to the SKOD to make the setback a minimum of 2 feet, and allow for an exceptions process.

Since last year, residents have been opposed to a potential hotel on Siesta Key, partly because of the lack of details available about the plan. 

A recent survey of Siesta Key Association members showed that 90% of the 600 surveyed were opposed to any changes to the county’s comprehensive plan to allow a hotel on the Key.

Bailey said residents who are worried about the hotel are likely concerned it will be comparable to existing condos and multifamily units on the Key, but that’s not the case.

“The hotel that we’re going to be building is so much smaller than those buildings out there,” he said. “I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised.”

However, some business owners have also been in favor of the hotel since the beginning, like Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mark Smith. 

“The intention of SKOD was to keep the commercial district pedestrian-friendly,” Smith said at the July 12 meeting, encouraging commissioners to clarify the language. He has also said in the past that a hotel on the Key is “sorely needed.”

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