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Sarasota Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017 2 years ago

Siesta Key setback requirements up for debate again

Gary Kompothecras and his attorney have been working to reduce the setback requirements on Siesta Key all summer, as part of Kompothecras' efforts to build a hotel on the Key.
by: Cassidy Alexander Staff Writer

The Planning Commission will consider amending the portion of the zoning code that has been an obstacle in 1-800-ASK-GARY founder Gary Kompothecras’ efforts to build a hotel on Siesta Key.

Land use attorney Charlie Bailey, who has been representing Kompothecras in his endeavor to reduce the required setbacks for new commercial buildings on Siesta Key, is seeking an amendment to the zoning code today at a Planning Commission meeting.

This summer, a county zoning administrator said regulations in the Siesta Key Overlay District dictate that the minimum side setback for a building in a commercial zone is 2 feet, except where the building is 35 feet tall or more. In that case, the building must be set back 25 feet from the street, or half the height, whichever is greater.

Bailey and his client are asking that the “25 feet or half the height” requirement be removed. Instead, they’re proposing that when an increase in building height is being sought via special exception, that the commission should decide at that time if the setback should be more than 2 feet.

The Board of Zoning Appeals upheld the zoning administrator’s interpretation in June, prompting Bailey, Kompothecras and several others to speak to the County Commission about the subject in July

In the past, residents have voiced concern over changing the zoning code, particularly for a hotel project they know no specifics about. Bailey said this issue needs to be decided before a plan for a hotel can be created. 

“My client would much like to bring a boutique hotel — a well-designed, compatible, boutique hotel — to Siesta Key,” Bailey said. “And this decision on the request made to the BZA was part of the preliminary steps in doing that.”

Proponents of the change say the Key needs a hotel, and that the shift aligns with the overlay district's intent of making the Key pedestrian-friendly.

According to the proposal, Bailey is acting as an agent for Clayton A. Thompson and Diane Heiden Thompson, owners of Clayton’s Siesta Grille at 1256 Old Stickney Point Road. Kompothecras’ name is not on the memo to the Planning Commission, but he also owns property on Old Stickney Point Road.

County staff does not support the amendment as presented, but would support it if it had criteria for determining what setbacks would be appropriate for proposed projects, according to a memo dated today.

The full agenda for today’s Planning Commission meeting is posted on the county website. The meeting will be streamed online.


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