Attorney for applicant says it will not be a ‘destination attraction,’ but a place families and others already visiting the Village would be able to enjoy
The operator of miniature golf courses in Bradenton Beach and on Lakewood Ranch’s Main Street has filed a preliminary application with Sarasota County for an 18-hole project in Siesta Village.
The site — a 10,500-square-foot treeless parcel located at 5160 Calle Minorga — is parallel to part of Ocean Boulevard.
The documents submitted on July 19 to the county Planning Department say the course would have a starter house/restroom facility, as well as 15 parking spaces, thanks to Siesta Key Overlay District zoning provisions for spots for bicycles and motorcycles. However, because the Zoning Code requires 37 spaces, under the guidelines of the district, “the project will require an alternative parking plan and parking relief …”
Robert Lincoln, the Sarasota attorney representing the applicant — Buf-Fun-O Inc./The Fish Hole at Lakewood Ranch — told The Sarasota News Leader in an Aug. 9 telephone interview that his clients “want to do the right thing.” If members of the Siesta Key community do not embrace the project, Lincoln said, The Fish Hole likely will not pursue it.
Lincoln pointed out of the plan, “It’s not a destination attraction miniature golf use.” Instead, he explained, “this is the kind of thing somebody’s going to do before or after they’ve gone to a restaurant or eaten ice cream” in Siesta Village. He and his clients do not anticipate this will add significantly to the demand for parking within Siesta Village, Lincoln said.
Furthermore, during the neighborhood workshop that will be required under county planning guidelines, Lincoln continued, “I want to be able to describe enough [facets of the proposal] so that everybody’s comfortable that it’s not flying under a false flag.”
If the project wins community support, Lincoln continued, he would like to be able to submit the formal application to the county in September and conclude the public hearing process by the spring of 2017. Ideally, he added, that would enable construction to start in the summer of 2017.
Buf-Fun-O is seeking a rezoning of the property from Office Professional and Institutional (OPI) within the Siesta Key Overlay District to Commercial General in that district, with a special exception for outdoor recreation.
According to records in the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office, the actual owner of the land is a limited liability corporation called 5160 Calle Minorga that was registered with the state in August 2011. The agent is Sentinel Management LLC of Sarasota, whose manager is Jeffrey R. McCurdy. The parcel was purchased from the Lambco Corp. in September 2011 for $450,000, county Property Appraiser’s Office records show. The land was valued at $425,300 this year, the records say.
Officers of the Siesta Key Association (SKA) declined comment on the project when contacted by the News Leader, saying they have not had a chance to review the proposal thoroughly. However, Mark Smith of Smith Architects, vice president of the Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA), told the News Leader on Aug. 9 that he personally does not have a problem with the project. Nonetheless, he had hoped for some time, he said, that the county and the property owner would reach an agreement on using the space for Village parking.
Smith added that it is his understanding that the county cannot increase the density or intensity of development on its barrier islands, but the change in zoning that will be necessary would be an increase in intensity of use. He did point out, however, “you can make these [mini golf courses] as tiny as you want.”
An Aug. 6 letter from the county’s Development Review Committee (DRC) members — who reviewed the preliminary application on Aug. 4 — says, “The intensity and density of future development on the Barrier Islands of Sarasota shall not exceed that allowed by zoning ordinances and regulations existing as of March 13, 1989 …”
Smith voiced concern as well that if the golf course were approved and it then closed several years later, the property would remain zoned Commercial General, which would enable a retail business or a restaurant, for example, to open on the site; that could lead to more intensity of use.
The development process
Under a Transportation Planning heading, the Aug. 6 DRC summary says, “Staff is concerned with the current parking configuration with respect to vehicles backing into public streets. On-site parking spaces for commercially-zoned properties within the Siesta Key Overlay District (SKOD) are permitted to back directly into public streets [according to criteria under the County Code].”
Lincoln told the News Leader that his clients have proposed angle parking in the alley adjacent to the site, along with parallel parking on the other side of Calle Minorga.
The applicant will have to obtain a permit from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, in addition to having the rezoning petition approved, the DRC summary notes.
Further, the document points out that a 10-foot-wide boundary buffer will be necessary where the north perimeter of the property abuts other land zoned Office Professional and Institutional, if the Calle Minorga site is rezoned to Commercial General.
In regard to drainage on the site: the DRC notes point out that if about 2,000 square feet or more of impervious area is added to the property, the applicant would be required to provide a stormwater management system.
Lincoln explained to the News Leader that the project can include a significant amount of pervious or semi-pervious construction.
Editor’s note: This article was updated on Oct. 24 to correct information about the ownership of the Calle Minorga parcel.