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Sarasota Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 8 years ago

Sign campaign assails Cabana Inn vote

by: Robin Roy City Editor

After the City Commission rebuffed his attempt at redeveloping the Cabana Inn into a larger hotel, owner Rodney Dessberg is taking his message to the people.

Dessberg and his consultant, Terry Purdy, began placing large signs in front of Dessberg’s 30 U.S. 41 properties that urge Vice Mayor Kelly Kirschner to ask his fellow commissioners for a revote on the redevelopment petition.

The signs say things such as “Kelly Kirschner, promote tourism! Vote yes for Cabana Inn” and “Kelly Kirschner, the hospital needs guest rooms. Vote yes for Cabana Inn.”

Kirschner was in the majority last week on a 3-2 vote that denied Dessberg’s request to increase the density on the 2525 S. Tamiami Trail property to allow 88 hotel rooms, which he said is necessary to attract a national hotel chain to the site.

The Cabana Inn currently has 64 rooms. It was grandfathered into the zoning code that only allows 58 rooms on that site.

Dessberg didn’t take the usual route of applying for a comprehensive-plan amendment and submitting a rezoning request and site-plan application. Instead, he asked commissioners directly to approve the density increase in a zoning-text amendment.

“After two years of receiving memos from (the city’s development services director) that said that wasn’t the way (to seek approval), they went ahead anyway,” said Kirschner.

Purdy said that process is time consuming and can cost a developer hundreds of thousands of dollars. At that point, the project could still be declined and that money would be lost.

“If they started that process two years ago, then they may have already been approved,” said Kirschner.
The zoning-text amendment was part of a larger zoning discussion last week, which will be brought back to the City Commission Monday for final approval.

Usually in final approvals, also known as second readings, the commissioners reaffirm their original decision, but they do have the option to change their minds.

Purdy is not banking on that happening, so he’s holding a couple of neighborhood workshops and hopes that Kirschner will attend.

While there are a few residents near the Cabana Inn who oppose the redevelopment, others, including the Arlington Park Neighborhood Association as a whole, support it.

“Kelly can come out and hear the community support,” said Purdy.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].


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