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CONA members hear update on proposed Siesta Promenade

Residents are now in a holding pattern until Benderson Development submits its updated materials, and county staff approves it.

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  • | 2:40 p.m. November 15, 2017
  • Sarasota
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Kafi Benz, president of the Sarasota County Council of Neighborhood Associations, said her organization isn’t necessarily against the proposed Siesta Promenade near the south bridge to Siesta Key. 

She just wants to see a finished plan.

“We’re not just carte blanche opposed to it,” she said. “We’ll have to see.”

Those who attended the CONA meeting on Nov. 13 heard an update on Benderson Development's proposed multi-use development at the corner of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road and learned progress is essentially in a holding pattern. The 24-acre project, near the south bridge to Siesta Key, would include 140,000 square feet of retail, 415 residential units and a 130-room hotel.

Benderson is responding to county comments on its application.

The property in question is not zoned for that intense of use, and Benderson must seek special permission from the county. Residents have been opposed to the proposal for more than a year, primarily over traffic concerns at the already-busy intersection, but the developer has maintained it’s a good fit for the area.

County staff returned the original application with about eight pages of comments or updates needed.

“There was no planning, no care to detail… it makes no sense,'” said Sura Kochman, a member of the Pine Shores Neighborhood Alliance. “The whole thing makes no sense.”

Todd Mathes, Benderson’s director of development, said he has no concerns about the process, and plans to submit the responses to the county’s comments “sometime soon.”

“It’s a process we go through often and understand that we need to satisfy staff in order to move the application to the planning commission,” he said.

One of Kochman’s major concerns with the application is the scheduling of a neighborhood workshop right after the holidays. Mathes said the scheduling wasn't designed to keep attendance down, but that the workshop will be held after the application is approved, and residents are always able to contact him or the company to offer feedback.

“We’ve put a lot of time and energy into the plan to protect and buffer the neighborhood, but also to achieve a project that we think compliments Sarasota County and Siesta Key,” Mathes said.

Rhana Bazzini, a resident who lives just a few blocks away from the proposed development on Stickney Point Road, was gathering contact information to organize a possible demonstration. But she, like Benz, is waiting for the final application to be filed before taking any action.

“I think it’s important to get the word out, and I think it’s important for the commission to understand that people are interested in this and it’s bothersome,” she said, citing the success of residents who vocally protested the proposed recycling facility outside the Celery Fields, which the County Commission ultimately denied.



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