To the Editor:
Fundamental to the discussion of the density of the proposed high-rise hotels on the Key is whether because they are commercially zoned they are not “residential” units, and therefore not subject to the limitations of the Comprehensive plan. Mr. Merrill’s assertion that “national standards” designate hotel rooms as a commercial “purpose” is his opinion and has little to do with whether they should be counted for residential density purposes. Mr. Merrill appears to be indulging in conflation, and we ought to know what “national standards” (if any) we are talking about and why living quarters in a hotel should be treated differently from those in a house, a duplex, or fourplex, etc., because whether it is one or another it is density that is the issue not the nomenclature for describing it or its zoning category.
I do not agree with Mr. Balot “Don’t Bend Over for Mr. Benderson,” or with Mr. “Gary” either, and while the SNL headline wondered if politics would prevail on this matter, the contributions being made to Commissioners and Commissioner candidates suggest a somewhat different question might be asked.
Happy Holidays !
Bernard P. Friel
To the Editor:
I am afraid to predict that the answer to the question “Will politics prevail during Nov. 28 County Commission discussion of policies that would allow high-rise hotels on Siesta Key?” is that politics will prevail.
Case in point: December 12, 2018 at the County Commission meeting the discussion was about approval of Benderson’s Siesta Promenade. The chamber was full, standing room only. Sixty-two presenters were allowed to speak; there would have been more but because of the late hour the number was limited and the allowable time was reduced. Every single speaker was vehemently opposed to the project except those on Randy Benderson’s payroll. There was no doubt the community was absolutely against it, principally because it would make traffic at the busy intersection of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road even worse and seriously degrade the Pine Shores neighborhood. It was clearly a decision for the Commissioners to decide between the strong desire of the community who elected them or the developers’ campaign contributions. Moran moved to approve the application; Hines seconded it, and Maio and Ziegler agreed. Only Detert had the conscience to remember that she represented the will of the community that elected her. The meeting is documented at http://sarasotacounty.
When the traffic light at Avenue B&C is finally activated, as we sit stuck in traffic at U.S. 41 and Stickney Point, we will always remember Moran, Hines, Maio and Ziegler as the cabal that loved the developer more than the community they were elected to serve. They will live on in infamy.
This same scene has played out since for each of the mega hotel approvals.
I hope I am wrong, but I believe the Commissioners have already made their minds up in favor of the developers.
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