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Siesta Key resident Lourdes Ramirez is opposing plans for a hotel on the barrier island.
Siesta Key Monday, Dec. 5, 2016 5 years ago

Siesta resident petitions against hotel proposal

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Former County Commission candidate Lourdes Ramirez has started a campaign to oppose Comp Plan changes that could allow a large hotel on the island.
by: Alex Mahadevan News Innovation Editor

While the proposal may only be in its infancy, a Siesta Key neighborhood activist has started the fight against plans to change the Sarasota County comprehensive plan to make way for a new island hotel.

“I know this is in the preliminary stages, but I want to nip this in the bud,” said Lourdes Ramirez, a former County Commission candidate.

Ramirez has started gathering petitions to oppose a comprehensive plan amendment that would allow property owners in commercial general-zoned areas on barrier islands to increase the density or intensity of their land as long as they are redeveloping it into a hotel. The ban on increasing the two development attributes has been in place since 1989.

“Them’s fighting words,” Ramirez wrote in an email to county staff regarding her aim to protect that policy language.

Gary Kompothecras, founder of 1-800-ASK-GARY and a Siesta resident, is pursuing the change.

“He’s long wondered why Siesta has not had the hotel accommodations one would expect to find near our own Siesta Beach, known around the country and the world for its beauty,” said land use attorney Charlie Bailey, who is representing Kompothecras. Less than 1% of properties on the island would be affected by the change.

While the County Commission can approve a hotel in commercial districts on the island by special exception, the amendment change would give the developer more flexibility in terms of the scope of a project.

But Ramirez contends that the Comp Plan change will lead to proliferation of high-rise hotels similar to those of Ft. Lauderdale or Miami on the Key.

“It just opens up the flood gates,” she said.

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