On Tuesday, Jan. 30, the County Commission will decide whether or not to amend part of the zoning code that says how close commercial buildings can be to the sidewalk.
Siesta Key residents plan to attend the Jan. 30 County Commission meeting ready to fight a proposed change to the Siesta Key zoning code that business owners support.
On Tuesday, the County Commission is scheduled to consider changing rules in the Siesta Key Overlay District to allow taller buildings in commercial districts to be built closer to the sidewalk. The rule change would eliminate a requirement for buildings taller than 35 feet to be set back from the sidewalk either a minimum of 25 feet or half the height of the building, whichever is greater. Instead, setbacks would be considered individually as part of a special-exception process.
“The concern is that in one sense it’s an existential threat to Siesta Key,” said Malcolm Lazin, a representative of the Gulf and Bay Club. “It would change the very nature, fabric and quality of life that marks this Key by virtue of allowing eight-story buildings to be within 2 feet of the sidewalk. This would totally undermine the Village, it would remarkably change the ambience of Midnight Pass Road and certainly affect every neighborhood in Siesta Key.”
The issue arose as part of 1-800-ASK-GARY founder Gary Kompothecras’ hopes to build a hotel near Midnight Pass Road, though plans for the hotel are in flux, pending the zoning-decision outcome, said land-use attorney Charlie Bailey. In December, the Planning Commission recommended approval of the change to the County Commission, after residents spoke in opposition.
Bailey said those concerns were not about the proposed change.
“The voiced concerns have been directed at things such as taller buildings, increased density and whether a hotel is appropriate for Siesta Key,” Bailey said in a statement. “These issues have nothing to do with the zoning text amendment the county is now considering and are completely irrelevant to this discussion.”
According to Bailey, the time to consider if a hotel or other development is appropriate for a certain part of Siesta Key would come after the zoning text amendment discussion. Residents don’t want the discussion at all.
“Nobody on Siesta Key wants to see this change,” said Frank Jurenka, president of the Siesta Key Condominium Council. “That’s the bottom line.”
Business owners on the Key have said differently, including the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, which supports the proposal. They’re interested in brining new and different business to the area.