Most recent appraisals put the value of that land and an adjacent lot at $338,000 each; both will be under consideration for county purchase
Almost exactly one year ago, an Osprey couple listened as the Sarasota County Commission for the third time denied them a coastal setback variance so they could construct a house on their parcel at 162 Beach Road on Siesta Key.
Their attorney, William Merrill III of Sarasota, had threatened a lawsuit. Yet, negotiations ensued, and if the County Commission agrees to let them continue in earnest, the property — and an adjacent lot at 168 Beach Road — could be added to the county’s park system.
On Oct. 11, county staff officially will seek authorization from the County Commission to work with Ronald and Sania Allen — owners of the 162 Beach Road parcel — and Wendy B. Cooper — trustee of the Burton M. Cooper Credit Shelter Trust No. 1, which owns the lot at 168 Beach Road.
As Carolyn Brown, director of the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department put it in a memo to the board, the combined properties comprise a beachfront site that is approximately 0.37 acres. They are located seaward of the Gulf Beach Setback Line, which is designed to limit construction in environmentally sensitive and vulnerable areas.
The parcels “have been determined to be 100% dune habitat that is predominantly vegetated with a variety of desirable native dune plant species,” such as sea oxeye daisy, beach sunflower, seat oats and railroad vine, Brown added. “Dune habitat also serves as habitat for gopher tortoises, beach nesting shorebirds and nesting sea turtles, all of which can be found on these Properties,” she wrote.
In December 2015, Merrill told The Sarasota News Leader that the Allens were “weighing their various options” in the wake of the County Commission’s most recent denial of their construction proposal.
Even before the Allens bought the property, the board had denied a variance for construction on it.
Each time the Allens brought a proposal forward, commissioners made the point that the area of Siesta Beach where the parcel is located has been underwater numerous times in past decades. County staff showed aerial photos to confirm that. Even though the beach has been accreting in recent years, commissioners voiced concern that it could start to recede again at some point, leaving any construction vulnerable to significant damage or destruction.
Following the last public hearing — on Oct. 14, 2015 — Merrill told the News Leader one option was for the couple to explore whether the county would be interested in purchasing the property.
The means to an end
In her memo prepared in advance of the Oct. 11 commission meeting, Brown noted that the parcels at 162 and 168 Beach Road were nominated by their respective owners on Dec. 31, 2015 “for acquisition consideration under the Neighborhood Parkland Program (NPP) and Environmentally Sensitive Lands Protection Program (ESLPP).” In accordance with county law, Brown continued, the county’s Parks Advisory and Recreation Council (PARC), “serving as the Board-appointed advisory board for [NPP], reviewed the Properties’ attributes and ranked the nominations as a ‘High’ on January 7, 2016.”
Brown added that the parcels’ “location, descriptions, relevance and potential uses” make them consistent with the Neighborhood Parkland Program’s Siesta Key Beach Access Work Plan, which the commission approved in 2008. The properties also qualify for the use of ESLPP and NPP ad valorem revenue set aside for acquisition, she noted.
On Feb. 24, the county received the first set of appraisals for the parcels, Brown wrote. The lot at 162 Beach Road was put at $1,335,000, while the 168 Beach Road parcel was put at $1,380,000. A second set of appraisals — which the county received on April 18 — set the value at $1,125,000 for each lot. “The second set of appraisals included an Extraordinary Assumption that the Properties are buildable,” Brown pointed out.
Then, on May 24, she continued, “staff received adjusted appraisals for each property, with the values of $338,000 under the Extraordinary Assumption they were not buildable.”
The Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office records show that the Allens bought the 7,429-square-foot lot at 162 Beach Road, plus the 7,679-square-foot lot at 168 Beach Road, in late May 2009 for $5.4 million from Brent R. Cooper, trustee for the Burton M. Cooper Credit Shelter Trust No. 1, with an office address in Siesta Village.
In February 2012, the Allens sold the 168 Beach Road parcel to Siesta Miramar LLC for a “recorded consideration” of $100. Siesta Miramar LLC, in turn, sold it back to the Burton M. Cooper Credit Shelter Trust No. 1 for $400,000 in May 2013, Property Appraiser Office records show.
The registered agent for Siesta Miramar LLC is William Merrill III, state Division of Corporation records say. Ronald and Sania Allen are listed as managing members of the corporation.
This year, the Property Appraiser’s Office valued the land at 162 Beach Road at $85,200. It set a value of $139,000 on the parcel at 168 Beach Road, the records show.
The first time the County Commission denied the Allens’ request for a variance to build at house on the 162 Beach Road property was during a Jan. 9, 2013 public hearing. They also were seeking a variance for a three-story home on the 168 Road parcel.
The Oct. 11 discussion item for the County Commission is No. 40 on the agenda. It will follow the Open to the Public period starting at 1:30 p.m., as well as five other issues for discussion.
The meeting will be held in the Commission Chambers of the County Administration Center at 1660 Ringling Blvd. in downtown Sarasota.