April 25 hearing set on parties’ petition to move up trial date in Ramirez case challenging approval of Calle Miramar hotel on Siesta Key

Developer and property owners cite harm they could suffer if trial does not begin until early 2023

Robert T. Anderson is the long-time lessee of the property where the Calle Miramar hotel would stand. Image from RE/MAX webpages

The 12th Judicial Circuit Court judge presiding over two lawsuits filed to prevent construction of high-rise hotels on Siesta Key has scheduled an April 25 hearing on the developers’ request to speed up one of those cases.

At 11:30 a.m. on April 25, Circuit Judge Stephen Walker will allow the intervenors in the complaint filed by Siesta Key resident Lourdes Ramirez to offer arguments as to why expediency is necessary.

Ramirez filed her lawsuit against Sarasota County in late November 2021, focusing on plans for the eight-story, 170-room hotel planned on four parcels between Calle Miramar and Beach Road. Ramirez contends that the project is not consistent with numerous policies of the county’s Comprehensive Plan, which provides the guidelines for growth.

On March 22, attorneys with the Tampa law firm representing the owners of the hotel site — Calle Miramar LLC — and the developer — SKH 1 LLC, whose principal is RE/MAX Realtor Robert Anderson — filed a motion with the 12th Circuit Court, contending that the case’s March 27, 2023 trial date should be accelerated. They have cited the facts that their construction expenses — and changing market conditions — could become problems if they have to wait more than a year for the court to consider Ramirez’s arguments.

The attorneys for the intervenors are Scott A. McLaren, Shane T. Costello and Jarod A. Brazel of the Tampa firm Hill, Ward & Henderson.

Ramirez is being represented by Martha Collins and Pamela Jo Hatley of the Collins Law Group in Tampa.

Judge Walker has scheduled 30 minutes for the arguments, which will begin at 11:30 a.m. on April 25. The hearing will be conducted via Zoom. The meeting ID, password and audio connections are included in an amended notice of the hearing, which was filed on the morning of April 8.

This is the information provided in court records about how to sign in to watch the April 25 hearing. Image courtesy 12th Judicial Circuit Court

In the meantime, the “discovery” phase of the case is proceeding, court records show. That is the process in which parties request materials and information as their attorneys work to prepare the arguments they eventually will use when a trial is conducted.

The most recent notice in the case docket points out that the intervenors have scheduled a videotaped deposition of Ramirez on May 23.

Filed on April 5, the document says, “The oral examination will continue from day to day until completed. This videotaped deposition is being taken for the purposes of discovery, for use at trial or for such purposes as are permitted under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and the Florida Statutes without limitation.”

Because she could end up paying attorneys’ fees to the intervenors as well as Sarasota County, if she loses the case, Ramirez is continuing to raise donations through a GoFundMe initiative.

On her Siesta Key Community Facebook page she wrote in late March, “[W]e are working hard behind the scenes to defend Siesta Key. We filed a lawsuit against Sarasota County for violating our local growth laws and approving mega hotels. We don’t want to become Miami Beach. We appreciate any donation to our cause.”