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Beach Road, SIesta Key
Siesta Key Monday, Jun. 20, 2016 5 years ago

Siesta resident sues county for Beach Road vacation

Michael Cosentino believes Sarasota County is unlawfully vacating a portion of a public road on Siesta Key.
by: Anna Brugmann Community Editor

A Siesta Key resident is suing the county over its decision to vacate a 200-foot, weather-worn portion of Beach Road that has been closed to thru traffic since the early ‘90s.

Beach Road property owners Dennis and Wendy Madden petitioned Sarasota County for a variance that would result in the permanent vacation of a portion of the roadway near Sunset Point in May. The Maddens plan to replace 12 rental condominium units with a new six-unit, four-story building, the first near Siesta Key Village since 2008.

Though the county granted the variance, Siesta Key resident Michael Cosentino maintains the decision contradicts a portion of the county’s comprehensive plan. The plan states “the County shall not vacate road segments on waterfronts along any creek, river, lake, bay or Gulf access point and shall encourage right-of-way use of these areas for coastal beach and bay access.”

However, according to the property owners’ attorney, Charlie Bailey, Beach Road does not offer Gulf access because it runs parallel to the beach. Avenida Messina and Columbus Boulevard, located on either end of the road segment, serve as access points to the water.

Bailey said his clients have no intention of privatizing the Beach Road property or revoking public access.

Cosentino is also contesting the county’s decision to grant the Maddens a variance to build past the Gulf Beach Setback Line. The line was created in 1978 to prevent construction that may cause erosion to gulf beaches.

Though the Maddens’ current condo complex sits seaward of the setback line, they need a county variance to move forward with plans to replace the structure. The new plans call for a building that will sit further from the water, but still past the setback line. The development would decrease the building’s density to comply with current zoning requirements.

Cosentino filed a complaint to Sarasota County on June 10. He hopes his lawsuit will prompt the county to rebuild the road — now partially washed away and covered by sand — and restore public access to vehicles. 

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