Residents voice opposition to Benderson proposals at January 8 workshop
January 14, 2024 —
Approximately 250 people attended the Benderson January 8 workshop that proposed drastic changes to Siesta Key building regulations to facilitate building a 147-room hotel in the center of Siesta Village. Speakers opposed proposed changes, particularly those allowing unrestricted density and intensity for hotels. If passed, this would open the door to permitting all mega-hotels currently proposed for the Key.
Sarasota News Leader, January 12, 2024, Rachel Brown Hackney: “From concerns about hurricane evacuation to those regarding character of Siesta Village, residents express opposition to Benderson Development plans for high-rise hotels on Key”
December 22, 2023 —
The Benderson proposed Siesta Key Village Hotel Zoom workshop has been rescheduled to January 8, 2024.
If you registered for the previously scheduled December 21, 2023 workshop, you should have received an email from Philip DiMaria with a link to join the January 8 Zoom workshop. If you did not receive an email regarding the January workshop, you should probably re-register.
Read the summary of the proposed changes below.
December 13, 2023 —
Benderson Development is proposing amendments to the Comprehensive Plan that will not only facilitate, but actually encourage, building new hotels on Siesta Key. Some of these amendments are specific to Siesta Key; others have far-reaching consequences for all County barrier islands that are not separate cities. The immediate focus of the amendments is to enable Benderson to build a 147-room hotel in Siesta Key Village.
Following is a brief summary of the Benderson proposal:
The first proposed amendment is to eliminate counting of hotel rooms for residential density requirements for Siesta Key Commercial General (CG/SKOD) and Commercial Intensive (CI/SKOD) property as designated in Future Land Use (FLU) Policy 2.9.1. This existing policy is the basis of Lourdes Ramirez’s recently victorious lawsuit against the County.
A second proposed amendment to FLU Policy 2.9.2 would eliminate the requirement to maintain density as specified in March 13, 1989. Again, used as the basis of recent successful hotel lawsuits.
Next, FLU Policy 2.9.4 would be amended to allow no more than 15% of CG/SKOD and CI/SKOD property to contain transient accommodations. The policy would not permit new hotels on Siesta beaches. Since there is no commercial property on Siesta Key beaches, the purpose of this stipulation is unclear.
Economic Policy 7.1.4 is a new proposed policy, stating in part, “Transient accommodations shall be allowed by special exception in the CG/SKOD and CI/SKOD zoning districts as a favored land use to expand available tourist accommodations, enhance the tourism experience, and maintain the competitiveness and legacy of Sarasota’s tourism on Siesta Key;” This policy would encourage building hotels on Sesta Key.
Benderson also proposes amending Coastal Objective 1.3, which requires the County “To protect the public safety during emergency evacuation by reducing or maintaining emergency evacuation clearance time for residents.” Benderson proposes to relieve the County of that duty and instead allow developers to pay unlimited amounts of money to mitigate their increase of residents’ evacuation clearance time.
A proposed modification to Coastal Objective 1.3.1 would also allow mitigation instead of safe and timely evacuation and appropriate sheltering.
Finally, Benderson proposes eliminating Coastal Policy 1.2.3, which currently states, “Encourage hotel/motel development in the storm evacuation zones category C, D and E rather than evacuation zones A and B.” Evacuation zones A and B are most vulnerable to storm surge during storms and hurricanes. All of Siesta Key is in evacuation zone A. Again, eliminating this policy would encourage building hotels on Siesta Key.
Sarasota News Leader, December 15, 2023, Rachel Brown Hackney: “Dec. 21 workshop via Zoom scheduled to present Benderson Development’s proposals for changes in county policies and regulations to allow high-rise hotels on Siesta Key”
Sarasota News Leader, October 20, 2023, Rachel Brown Hackney: “Benderson seeking to construct hotel up to 85 feet tall in Siesta Village, if County Commission will eliminate residential density restrictions for ‘transient accommodations'”