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Siesta Key Community News

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Special Announcement!
Lourdes to join the
Protect Siesta Key Organization

Message from Lourdes Ramirez:

Last year, I with my attorneys and donors celebrated two court victories resulting in Sarasota County repealing the ordinance that allowed mega-size hotels on Siesta Key and revoking the approval of a mega-hotel in the Village.  I'm grateful for the support I received from people all over Sarasota County.   Siesta Key is facing a bigger challenge. Manatee-based shopping center developer, Benderson Development is proposing to eliminate or dramatically change the decades old rules we successfully defended in courts. To face this challenge, I and Rob Sax who recently won the second mega-hotel lawsuit have created Protect Siesta Key to specifically address our current challenge.

While this web page will continue to exist due to the extensive information on the last lawsuit, information and news on the current challenge will be found on Protect Siesta Key's website.  Use link below to visit our new website

Note all contributions received after December 1st, 2023 will be used for our current mega-hotel challenge. 

Our next Mega-Hotel Legal Challenge!
Protect Siesta Key residents and visitors!

Last April, the Florida Dept. of Administrative Hearings Judge ruled the County's change to the zoning code made in 2021 that allowed mega-size hotels on Siesta Key was not compliant with the Comprehensive Plan policy (2.9.1) which prohibits increases in density and intensity of development on Barrier Islands (Link to DOAH decision).   In August, a Sarasota County Circuit Court Judge ruled the County's approval of a mega-sized hotel in Siesta Village violated that same policy. (Link to Circuit Court decision)

 

The bottom line is that  “… Siesta Key had been highly developed and contained some of the County’s most intensive residential development."

 

“Development on Siesta Key has strained or exceeded the ability of many natural and man-made systems to support the existing human population living on Siesta Key.”

“Any increase in population on barrier islands increases the threat to human life from hurricanes and requires additional time and effort to carry out evacuations”. 

 

These statements from the County's Comprehensive Plan and ordinances in 1981were true then and are true today. 

 

Now that we won the legal challenges, three mega-hotel developers have proposed changes to the protective policies of our Comprehensive Plan.  These changes will cause a dangerous precedent by allowing developers to propose mega-size hotels that circumvent the laws that protected the lives of residents and visitors of Siesta Key for decades.  The changes will increase density and intensity in a hurricane-prone Coastal High Hazard area.

Important Dates

Informational Meetings

January 17
6 PM
Neighborhood Connections
(FULL)


January 23
3 PM
Siesta Key Chapel
4615 Gleason Ave, Siesta Key
Speakers: Lourdes Ramirez
on Siesta Key Mega-hotels
and Brown & Brown Insurance
on Condo Insurance
Host:  Siesta Key Condo Counci
l
(Link to Flyer)


January 24
6 PM
Gulf Gate Library
7112 Curtiss Ave, Sarasota
Speakers: Lourdes Ramirez on Siesta Key Mega-hotels and Attorney Susan Schoettle on the Comprehensive Plan
Host:  League of Women Voters

 

What are the mega-hotel developers proposing?

The proposed amendments will either eliminate or change Siesta Key's protections in the Comprehensive Plan:  

Benderson Development is proposing to eliminate the maximum density for hotels and has prepared plans for 217 unit hotel on 1.4 acres in Siesta Key Village

 

  • Link to Benderson's proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan

  • Link to Benderson's full proposal including hotel plans

What you can do:

Please consider helping our cause: 

  • Attend all County Commission meetings on this topic to show Siesta Key's opposition to the proposals. Wear White tops to show support!

•    Send emails to County Commissioners and staff:

See the links listed in the right column or cut and paste into your email:

jneunder@scgov.net,nrainford@scgov.net, mhsmith@scgov.net, mmoran@scgov.net, rcutsinger@scgov.net, planner@scgov.net

To send to one email only that may get to all commissioners:

Commissioners@scgov.net

•    Donate to the Siesta Key Community Legal Defense fund.  The cost of fighting the proposed changes to our protective land use policies will be expensive so please donate! (Link to donation page)

Donations

As of December 1, 2023, all donations received will be earmarked for the 2024 legal challenge against Benderson's proposed Comp Plan changes that would allow mega-hotels on Siesta Key

The fight against mega-hotels on Siesta Key is a grass-roots battle fought and funded by citizens. Siesta Key Community's founder Ms. Lourdes Ramirez won two important legal challenges in 2023. These successful lawsuits prove that the zoning codes established in 1989 should not be changed or re-interpreted to approve high-density development on our barrier island. Please join us in protecting the quality of life, safety, and the precious environment of Siesta Key.

 

Your online donation will be processed through PayPal which accepts all types of credit cards. Your receipt will show a donation to Siesta Key Community Inc.

To pay by check or to pay Lawyers directly, see below (Link to other forms of payment)

Please note - Contributions to the Siesta Key Legal Defense Fund are not tax deductible

Email County
Commissioners

Send emails to County Commissioners and staff: 

 

mhsmith@scgov.net 

jneunder@scgov.net

nrainford@scgov.net 

mmoran@scgov.net

rcutsinger@scgov.net

planner@scgov.net

To send to one email only that may get to all commissioners:

Commissioners@scgov.net

Comprehensive Plan

What is a Comprehensive Plan and why is it important?

Chapter 163 Florida Statutes require all local governments to adopt a plan for future growth. 

Comprehensive Plans establish goals, objectives, and policies that provide guidance for the orderly growth of a community.  Fl Statute 163.3177 contains the list of required elements that must address plans for transportation, capital improvement, economic development, environmental protections, and most importantly for Siesta Key - coastal development

How does the Comp Plan amendment process work? The following are the general steps to this process:

 

  • November 28 at County Commission chambers.  Staff asks the County Commission for permission to start the out-of-cycle Comprehensive Plan Amendment process. The Commissioners can agree to let all three mega-hotel proposals go forward or perhaps pick one.  

 

  • Staff asks the mega-hotel developer(s) to file a formal application(s) with all the details required to process a Comp Plan Amendment.

 

  • Different county departments such as Transportation will review the application and provide comments. The developer needs to address any concerns that may arise.

 

  • The developer must hold a public workshop.

 

  • If all departments and agencies are satisfied, the application goes to the Planning Commission.

 

  • After the Planning Commission votes on it, the Board of County Commission will hold a public hearing.

This process will take a few months. As per our County Charter, Comp Plan amendments that affect density and intensity require a supermajority (4 out of 5) votes of the County Commission.

 

If approved by the County Commission, the Comp Plan amendment must be sent to the State for review, comment, and approval. The final step is a second vote of the County Commission. If the Comp Plan amendment is approved the second time, the only option is to challenge it at the Florida Department of Administrative Hearings court.  

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