For the second time in two weeks, the Planning Commission recommended approval of regulatory adjustments designed to facilitate a hotel project on Siesta Key.
On Sept. 2, the advisory board voted 7-2 in favor of a pair of special-exception applications associated with a development at 1260 Old Stickney Point Road and 1267 Stickney Point Road. The developer, Gary Kompothecras, plans to build a seven-story hotel with up to 120 rooms near the south bridge to Siesta Key.
The proposal requires a series of changes and exceptions to development restrictions in place for the 1.75-acre parcels. The special exceptions seek to permit transient accommodations in the commercial general zoning district and allow a height increase above the maximum of 35 feet. The hotel building, located on Old Stickney Point Road, would be up to 83 feet tall. A parking garage, located on the Stickney Point parcel, would be a maximum of 54 feet tall.
Representatives for the applicant framed the project as one suitable for the commercial area near the south bridge. Although the proposal requires a special exception to build up to seven stories, attorney Charlie Bailey noted the property was adjacent to the six-story Marina del Sol residential buildings and in close proximity to the 10-story Anchorage Yacht and Tennis Club vacation rentals.
The proposal drew opposition from Siesta Key residents in attendance, who characterized the project as too large and inappropriate for a property in close proximity to a heavily trafficked road on the barrier island. People living near the project site expressed concern the hotel would exacerbate existing navigational challenges on Old Stickney Point Road and Peacock Road.
“How can a two-lane, dead-end road with two small dead-end residential streets possibly handle more congestion to service this proposal safely when it already can’t service all of the commercial operations on Old Stickney Point?” said Laura Lowe, a Peacock Road resident.
A majority of the Planning Commission determined the special exception applications merited approval, pending County Commission approval of a separate amendment to the unified development code that would eliminate density limits on hotel projects. The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend denial of a code amendment associated with the Old Stickney Point hotel project that would have increased the maximum density for hotels by adjusting the calculations the county currently uses.
Planning Commissioner Teresa Mast said she understood the concerns of Siesta Key residents who objected to the plans, but she also said the process of evaluating the project should reflect the interests of Sarasota County as a whole.
“Respectfully, we cannot shut the gates; they’ve been opened,” Mast said. “What we can try and do is guide and manage growth.”
In August, the Planning Commission recommended approval of applications associated with an eight-story, 170-room hotel proposal in Siesta Key Village. Two additional Siesta Key hotel plans are awaiting county consideration.