Siesta hotels: Next step ???
July 26, 2023 —
At a July 7 hearing, 12th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Hunter Carroll heard about 2 hours of testimony from attorneys for Lourdes Ramirez and Sarasota County. Both sides were requesting ruling from the judge without a trial. Attorney Richard Grosso expanded on Lourdes’ complaint that the County violated the Comprehensive Plan when it approved a hotel to be built on Siesta Key, that exceeded density limitations. The County defended its action with arguments that density regulations do not apply to commercial development. Judge Carroll stated that it would be several weeks before he would be able to provide a ruling. He also requested additional documentation on the County Comprehensive Plan.
Read full coverage of the July 7 hearing:
Sarasota News Leader, July 13, 2023, Rachel Brown Hackney: “Development on barrier islands was to be limited, successive county growth plans indicate, because of flooding and hurricane concerns, attorney for Siesta plaintiff stresses during hotel hearing”
June 26, 2023 —
On Friday, July 7, beginning at 8:30 am, Circuit Court Judge Hunter Carroll will hear oral arguments regarding whether he should rule in Lourdes Ramirez’s legal case without conducting a trial. Both Lourdes and Sarasota County have submitted Motions for Summary Judgement to eliminate the trial. If Judge Carrol decides to proceed with a trial, it will be scheduled in November 2023.
The hearing will be conducted in person in Courtroom 6C of the Silvertooth Judicial Center, 2002 Ringling Boulevard, Sarasota 34237 and via Zoom.
MEETING ID: 353 234 4884
AUDIO ONLY: (253) 215 8782
May 25, 2023 —
The Governor and Cabinet took Lourdes Ramirez’s recommendation that they place sanctions on Sarasota County under advisement but will wait to make a decision until after the County’s appeal of the Administrative Law Judge ruling is settled. The next step in the case will be the July 7 hearing before Circuit Court Judge Hunter Carroll.
May 19, 2023 —
On May 23, 2023, the Florida Administration Commission (Governor and Cabinet) may consider whether to impose sanctions on Sarasota County for adopting a regulation that eliminated maximum densities for all hotels and was found to be inconsistent with the County Comprehensive Plan. The Administration Commission may impose sanctions including not providing funds for road or other projects. The May 23 session will begin at 9 a.m. in the Cabinet Meeting Room of the Capitol in Tallahassee and is open to the public. The meeting will be live streamed, at FloridaChannel.org. Click here for the Commission meeting agenda.
April 20, 2023 —
Circuit court Judge Hunter Carrol has been assigned to the Siesta Key hotel cases to replace Judge Stephan Walker, who recused himself. Today, Judge Carrol held a previously scheduled hearing to decide how to proceed in the two Siesta Key hotel cases. On the motions for summary judgement, Judge Carol decided to hear new arguments on the motion at a hearing, possibly in June. Due to a schedule conflict, he moved the October trial to the week of November 13.
For a comprehensive account of this hearing, read Sarasota News Leader, April 20, 2023, Rachel Brown Hackney: “Week of Nov. 13 the earliest a trial would begin in consolidated lawsuits filed over County Commission approval of two high-rise hotels on Siesta Key.”
Administrative Law Judge Rules that County Violated Comprehensive Plan
On April 3, Administrative Law Judge Suzane Van Wyk ruled that the Sarasota County Commission violated the County Comprehensive Plan in approving the Calle Miramar hotel in 2021. This ruling could be influential in the current ongoing lawsuits challenging the County Commission approval of two large hotels on Siesta Key.
She wrote that the County’s 1981 Comprehensive Plan “specifically discusses the Barrier Islands as an area of special concern, acknowledging the ‘problems associated with development on the barrier islands,’ including ‘the detrimental effect of building along the active beach areas’ and ‘difficulties of evacuating large numbers of people from the Keys in time of emergency.” Developers indicated that they would appeal this ruling.
The ruling will be reviewed by the Florida Administration Commission, consisting of Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Cabinet, which could specify sanctions against the County. The next meeting of the Commission is May 23.