Actions on Siesta Promenade Project

April 2, 2021

Sarasota County approved the Siesta Promenade conditioned on FDOT approving a new signal at Stickney Point Road and Avenue B and C. 

When FDOT approved this light, Jim Wallace through his attorney, Ralf Brookes, took legal action to seek to reverse this decision because Siesta Promenade and the new signal were approved by the County and FDOT with no information whatsoever provided as to their impacts on Siesta Key.

We are very concerned about emergency vehicle travel times on and off the Key, but they ignored many other issues including diversion to the North bridge when traffic backs up on Stickney Point Road.

FDOT agreed that Dr Wallace had standing in their briefs to the Admin Law Judge. 

The Admin Law Judge at the Division of Administrative Hearings has relinquished jurisdiction to FDOT allowing FDOT to have direct discussions with Dr Wallace. These discussions are now underway. 

Your financial support is still needed.  Jim’s efforts will continue to focus on keeping the Stickney Point Road, as the Primary Access to Siesta Key, from getting any worse.

 
Dr. James P. Wallace III
President & CEO 
Jim Wallace & Associates LLC 
9122 Midnight Pass Rd. Suite 62
Sarasota Fl 34242
FL: 941 349 1942
WI: 920 668 8881
Cell: 941 330 3580

YOUR SUPPORT IS CRUCIAL

A “Ralf Brookes Attorney Trust Account” is now accepting donations used solely to support the “Stickney Point Rd. Project”. Send checks Payable to:

Ralf Brookes, Attorney P.O. Box 100238, Cape Coral, FL 33910

Please put “Stickney Point Rd. Project ” in the Memo line of check.  Donations are not tax deductible.

 

 
July 1, 2020
It was announced today by the Second District Count of Appeals that they had denied the Appeal of the the 2019 decision to provide the permit(s) for Siesta Promenade. No explanation was provided.
 
The County must still approve a traffic light and at Avenues B&C which should need FDOT review and endorsement. The FDOT is currently reviewing the Benderson provided Traffic Study of the US41 and Midnight Pass intersection and immediate project area. That Traffic Impact Study does not include any analysis of the project’s impact on Siesta Key.
 
December 3, 2019
 
Dear All,
 
FDOT has confirmed that there will be a hearing on 12/11.  I have learned that 200-ish people e mailed Mr. Purvis and requested that the hearing take place.  Thank you all so much.   Parking is limited at the Siesta Key Chapel, so you may wish to car-pool. 
 
The public hearing will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday, December 11, 2019 at the Siesta Key Chapel, 4615 Gleason Avenue, Sarasota, FL 34242. The formal hearing begins at 6:00 p.m. FDOT will hold this hearing to give interested people the opportunity to review displays and talk one-on-one with staff.This public hearing will only address the transfer of jurisdiction of the roadways. If you wish to speak, please arrive prior to 6 p.m. and register as a speaker at the check-in table.
 
NOTE:  It should be understood that FDOT has NO AUTHORITY, to override the Siesta Promenade application directly.  What we can bring out, is the deficiencies in how the traffic is to be handled, per what was stated in the Siesta Promenade hearings, the Kimley Horn engineering reports, and the County transportation reports:
 
For example: 
1) It is typical transportation policy is to close median cuts when in proximity to a traffic light. Benderson is proposing a light at Avenue B/C.  Should the median closure take place, in order to head westbound towards Siesta from Ave A, a motorist will have to head east to make a u turn, perhaps at Gateway-Vaccaro Dr and Stickney or 41 and Stickney, or if heading westbound to reach Ave A, a U turn will have to be made at the new light, in the middle of the traffic congestion that is heading towards Siesta.
 
This Commission approved a Scope of Work, which clearly requested the study the potential closure of Ave A.
 
The Scope of Work states: 
 
“Potential median closures and the impacts the alterations have on the current retail/residential uses served by the existing openings shall be evaluated on the overall area road network in the following locations:
Ø Avenue A
Ø Avenue B and C
The transportation impact study shall include potential solutions to improve traffic circulation if the
existing median opening(s) are closed or modified.”
 
Kimley Horn DID NOT address this in their Transportation Analysis, and made this comment:  
“… it is not recommended at this time to limit access at the existing median opening of SR 72/Stickney Point Road & Avenue A. However, it is recommended to monitor the median opening of SR 72/Stickney Point Road & Avenue A after six months of the first certificate of occupancy is issued for the Siesta Promenade development to determine if access to the median opening at Avenue A should be modified in the future.” 
 
Therefore, without FDOT jurisdiction demanding that tied to approval of a signal warrant, an alternative route must be found if the likely event of Ave A being closed comes to fruition.   The County has not done this, and kicking the can down the road (pun intended) to address this issue after the development has already begun is poor road planning and will impact the 41/SR72 intersection which FDOT will maintain jurisdiction over. 
 
2)  The proposed light on SR72 and B/C was discussed and mitigation suggested that FDOT will retime the light at 41/SR72.  FDOT has previously stated that this would affect all of the other lights on 41, and will not be done.  The County has not taken that into consideration.  Again- this will not only impact 41/SR72, but also backups from the bridge, which FDOT will retain jurisdiction over.  
 
3)  In the County report, a possible mitigation of the congested intersection was to install a Continuous Flow Intersection (CFI), as “suggested by FDOT”.  In e mail communication with Nathan Kautz, from FDOT, no CFI is being considered.  Additionally, continuous flow is not a viable solution because the US Coast Guard opens the bridge on Stickney Point at least twice each hour from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.     Priority in bridge opening is given to watercraft, which by rule are not required to wait more than 5 to 10 minutes.  Even if the new traffic light at Ave BC can be timed to the bridge, the backups to, and through the Stickney/US 41 intersection will continue and increase. 

Therefore, the County is in error in suggesting this fix, and jurisdiction should remain with FDOT for SR72, from 41 to the bridge. 
 
4)   Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) daily traffic count data for US 41 and Stickney Point for the roadway segments are segmented by area:
  
From Stickney Point, to Proctor, the daily trips ranged in 2016-17 between 40,500-46,500, for an average of 43,500 daily trips.  From Gulf Gate Dr to Stickney, the daily trips ranged in 2015-16 between 44,000-49,500, for an average of 46,750.
 
The average daily trips of the traffic, combining these two segments, is 45,125. The data provided by SRQ Transportation indicates 12,012 additional daily trips produced by Siesta Promenade. This amount, in terms of percentages, increases the traffic by 27%, not a de minimis amount.  FDOT has also provided REAL traffic counts from a study done in 2015 for the segment of  US41/Stickney to Ave D, totaling 25,956 daily trips.  Even assuming  only 1/2 of the daily trips produced by Siesta Promenade would come from, or to the access points on Stickney, this would be an increase in daily trips on Stickney of 24%
No mitigation has been proposed by SRQ County to alleviate this already congested road network. FDOT’s jurisdiction of 41/SR 72 and the bridge clearly needs to add the 1 mile of Stickney into its analysis of what can be done in the congested area.  It has been stated that FDOT can weigh in, but that is all.  FDOT needs to have final stay over what traffic signals, driveway cuts, median closures or alternate routes make sense.  
 
5) The Florida Department of Transportation has indicated that there are,
 “…growing safety and operational concerns related to the intersection of US41 and SR 72.  The department has a responsibility to provide a safe and efficient roadway for our residents and the thousands upon thousands of visitors and tourists that come to our great state each year.”  This quote is from a letter dated 7/25/16, from Keith Slater, FDOT, Traffic Services Program Engineer.
 
How can FDOT fulfill its responsibility if they no longer have jurisdiction over the road?  The County has relinquished its responsibility to provide a safe and efficient roadway.  That duty must stay with FDOT. 
 
6) The Level of Service Improvements by SRQ Transportation lists the Total Traffic/Project improvements.  They indicate that triple lefts would mitigate traffic congestion, but directly under the chart on page 5, there is a statement that the triple lefts listed in the chart are not feasible due to right of way limitations and planned bicycle lane improvements (see attached.)  Suggested mitigations by Kimley Horn, approved by the County, are unworkable, thus FDOT must retain jurisdiction over SR 72 from 41 to the bridge. 
 
 
October 14, 2019

Case Status Update: Siesta Promenade Court Hearing

On Monday, October 14, 2019 beginning at 10:30 AM, the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court heard oral arguments regarding the County Commission-approved Siesta Promenade project. The project location, on the NW corner of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road, is of critical concern to residents and visitors using that intersection every day. Sarasota County and developer, Benderson Corporation, restated their previous arguments that this project was appropriate simply because it is consistent with what currently exists on the other three corners of the intersection. Both the County and Benderson argued that this corner should be treated like any other on US 41.

This argument ignores pertinent and critical facts which Attorney Ralf Brookes emphasized to the court: 

  • The parcel has been vacant for over a decade generating no incremental traffic at the primary access to Siesta Key.
  • This 23.8-acre property is primarily zoned residential —totally consistent with the physically adjoining neighborhoods to the North and West.
  • As currently configured, the relevant roadways permit easy entry to this NW corner property from North and South-bound U.S. 41 or from West-bound on Stickney Point/Clark Road.
  • However, the only way to get such future Siesta Promenade patrons back from whence they came is to install a new, already County Commissioner-approved, traffic light on Stickney Point at Avenue B&C—which is between U.S. 41 and the South bridge.
  • Without this new light, Siesta Promenade would be Sarasota’s version of the struggle in the song “Hotel California,” – you can get in but you cannot get out.

A reasonable way to think about the impact of this new traffic light is that, when attempting to enter or exit Siesta Key, using its Stickney Point Road 4-lane primary access, drivers would face a new light turning red/amber and lasting roughly one minute out of every 3 or so minutes. The actual impact of such a new traffic light during tourist season on both ingress and egress to Siesta Key is really almost unimaginable—but in effect, totally ignored by both the County Commissioners and Benderson.

Clearly, this new traffic light would cause even more Siesta Key residents and visitors to feel marooned on the Key particularly between 10am-2pm in tourist season. Moreover, some traffic onto and off of Siesta Key without doubt would be diverted to the North bridge by the introduction of this new light. The obvious significant negative impact on emergency vehicle performance is very disturbing. This planned new light would cause longer periods of time when all four lanes of traffic are stopped on Stickney Point so that drivers have nowhere to go to get out of the way of emergency vehicles. Residents, especially on the South end of the Key, would be at even greater risk.

In effect, the County’s and Benderson’s attorneys argued before the Court that they could totally ignore such negative ramifications. They claimed before the Court that the so-called CAP Boundary they set from the outset, and did not change throughout the entire, very lengthy Board review and approval process, was appropriate. However, the Boundary they set was literally the boundary of the physical project area itself. Then, totally consistent with their view that this corner should be treated like any other on U.S. 41, out of the 16 intersections they studied, only one was on Siesta Key at Midnight Pass Road and Stickney Point Road.

The above-mentioned adverse impacts on Siesta Key were not ever mentioned. Rather than discuss such matters, the County and Benderson attempted to convince the Court that because they set an (incorrect) Boundary at the outset and never changed it, the Court should be happy with their Transportation Impact Analysis which for all of Siesta Key involved only one intersection.  In fact, the CAP Boundary should have included all of Siesta Key as well as the roads from the North bridge back East to U.S. 41.

Then there are the numerous zoning special exceptions granted (changing from primarily residential) with Board approval at the “eleventh hour.”

The County and Benderson continued to argue in Court that it is appropriate to treat this NW corner like any other on U.S. 41, rather than as the primary Gateway to Siesta Key. We argued this is reversible legal error, including Transportation Impact Analysis error, and hopefully, the Court will see it as such. 

James P. Wallace III Ph D

Longtime Siesta Key Resident

January 17, 2019 Sarasota News Leader, Rachel Brown Hackney:  Lawsuit filed to try to halt construction of the Siesta Promenade at US 41 Stickney Point Road Project

September 30, 2018

SKA is actively working to follow the progress of the Benderson Development proposal to build a mixed-use development at the corner of Stickney Point Road and US-41. Our goal is to ensure that the final development has the least possible impact on Siesta Key and its residents.

Projected timeline UPDATE

Based on the announcement of county staff notices of sufficiency and completeness of the revised application, the following are rough estimates of key dates.

  • County Staff sufficiency declaration: July 17, 2018
  • End of County Staff formal review: August 31, 2018
  • First public hearing (Planning Commission): November 15, 2018
  • County Commission public hearing: December 12, 2018

Please be aware that these are estimates based on the timelines provided in the County Fact Sheet. All are subject to change. The county will announce all public hearings, and SKA will keep members informed of announcements as they occur.

Neighborhood Workshop

Todd Mathes, Benderson Development project manager for Siesta Promenade, held a county-mandated Neighborhood Workshop on Thursday, August 23, 2018 at 6pm at the Pine Shores Presbyterian Church, 6135 Beechwood Ave, Sarasota FL 34231. County staff were in attendance. Here is the official notice from the county.

Benderson Development Promotional Activity

Benderson Development has issued a press release and launched a website promoting the development.  Links are below.

Documents filed with Sarasota County

Below are links to the documents filed with Sarasota County by the developer along with the latest advisories on the project from the County Planner. Newest documents are at the top.