Neighbors object because plan would put new home further seaward than those next to it
Although one neighbor objected because the proposal would keep the new house slightly more seaward than those adjacent to it, the Sarasota County Commission has approved a Coastal Setback Variance for a three-story modern structure at 680 Beach Road on Siesta Key.
Charles D. Bailey III of the Williams Parker firm in Sarasota, representing the owners of the 680 Beach Road property, explained to the County Commission during a Nov. 19 public hearing that the construction line concept employed by the owner of the house at 656 Beach Road is not applicable to county regulations. Instead, Bailey noted, it is a concept the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) uses in considering applications for permits regarding construction on shorelines.
Bailey further pointed out that the 656 Beach Road home — owned by Kenneth Erlick — has a deck that is 194 feet seaward of the county’s Gulf Beach Setback Line (GBSL). His clients — David and Tessie Ganzsarto — will have structures no further seaward of the GBSL than 177.5 feet, Bailey added.
Through a limited liability company that formally owns their property, the Ganzsartos were seeking a county Coastal Setback Variance (CSV) to replace a home built in 1978 with a three-story structure that will be about 4 feet narrower but remaining in the same footprint.
The GBSL, as Bailey noted, is designed to protect native dune habitat and vegetation, which — in turn — offer protection to landward structures in the event of storms and flood surge.
Furthermore, Bailey explained that county regulations for the property require a setback of 20 feet from the street.
Because of the “very busy” sidewalk — with people walking and biking routinely past the house as they go to and from the beach — and the existence of a Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) bus stop in the area of the adjacent Beach Access 11, he continued, his clients wanted to ensure they had plenty of room to maneuver vehicles off their property without compromising public safety.
Commissioner Alan Maio made the motion to approve the Coastal Setback Variance (CSV), noting that Mark Smith, whom Maio said “is considered sort of the godfather of the architects on Siesta,” had written a letter of support for the Ganzsartos’ proposal.
Maio also referenced the design of the new home — a collaboration of renowned architect Guy Peterson and Leonardo Lunardi of Sarasota. Though that was not a factor that the board could consider, Maio pointed out, he nonetheless wanted to note the admiration he had heard from his colleagues when photos depicting the concept were shown to the board. “That is a truly beautiful design. To me, this is much improved, totally redone, much better for our community than what’s there …”
Commissioner Michael Moran seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.
During the initial presentation about the CSV petition, Howard Berna, manager of the county’s Environmental Permitting Division, had referenced the issue Erlick’s attorney — John Patterson of Siesta Key — ended up raising. Berna referred to the line of construction as involving “basically the rooflines of adjacent properties.”
Although the county’s Coastal Setback Code does not recognize that line as a factor for consideration with a CSV petition, Berna explained, “we often look to the left and right … to see what’s going on” in considering such a petition.
The home at 680 Beach Road, he noted, is 100% seaward of the GBSL. It stands on Lot 17 of the 1920s Siesta Beach Plat, Berna said. The 20-foot unimproved Tenacity Lane separates that lot from Lot 20, he added, which is even further seaward and also owned by the Ganzsartos.
“All of the neighboring properties have [CSV] history for redevelopment,” he added. Seven homes stand to the left of the house at 680 Beach Road, Berna said.
Additionally, he continued, the Ganzsartos’ house stands next to the county’s Siesta Beach Park property.
The existing home, Berna pointed out, has a footprint that is 49.5 feet by 39.6 feet. The new home has been designed with a 50-foot by 35-foot footprint. “There are no impacts to the dune field” seaward of the house, with the new construction plans, he added. “This proposal is redeveloping and going up.”
Further, the house would be 649 feet landward of the Mean High Water Line (MHWL), he noted.
The parcel at 680 Beach Road contains 5,160 square feet, Berna said, referring to a slide he showed the commissioners.
The enclosed habitable space of the existing dwelling is 1,840 square feet, he continued. The proposed enclosed habitable space of the new home would be 3,720 square feet.
He also presented the board a series of historical slides depicting the width of the beach in front of the home, beginning in 1948. He noted “how that beach has accreted at this particular location.”
Other facets of the site
During his presentation, attorney Bailey pointed out that, thanks to the beach accretion over the decades, the seaward parcel, Lot 20, comprises about 47,000 square feet. Therefore, he added, Lots 17 and 20 together make up about 1.2 acres. In fact, Bailey noted, the county zoning regulations governing property in multi-family residential zoning districts — such as the 680 Beach Road parcel — would allow seven dwelling units on the property, based on its size. However, he emphasized that his clients were interested only in the single-family dwelling.
Bailey also stressed that the new home would cover about 90 fewer square feet of the parcel than the existing structure does. The new driveway and walkway together would have about 200 fewer square feet, he said.
“Some of that replacement driveway [will be] pervious; it’s crushed shell, crushed gravel,” Bailey added.
Then Bailey asked architect Peterson to step to the podium.
Peterson proceeded to tell the board about the constraints of the parcel. “It is only a 50-foot-wide lot,” with a high-powered electrical line at the street, he noted. “It makes it a very challenging site to work with.”
One goal, nonetheless, was to keep the construction as far from the shoreline as possible, Peterson explained.
As he showed the commission several views of the proposed design for the new house, he added, “I’d like to actually credit my clients. … We wanted to create something that was articulated by light and air.” Moreover, he said, “We’ve worked hard to respect the neighbors to the north and to the east and the south.”
They also wanted to take into consideration the design of the county’s improvements at Siesta Public Beach, which were completed in 2016, Peterson pointed out.
During his remarks, attorney Patterson — acting on behalf of Kenneth Erlick — showed the commissioners a series of images with his client’s home in relation to the location of the existing house at 680 Beach Road.
“Mr. Erlick has no objection, generally, to a Coastal Setback Variance,” Patterson said. “This application, he does have an objection to.”
Referring to the images architect Peterson had shown the board, Patterson added, “We hope to see that home built on the lot.”
“Where the rub is,” Patterson continued, is that the house on the 680 Beach Road parcel “sticks out from the established building line of the other homes.”
Those houses to the north of it, Patterson said, are closer to Beach Road. The 680 Beach Road house, he noted, is a little more than 12 feet “seaward of the homes next to it. … We would submit that it’s not that difficult to bring this in line with the other homes.”
One other resident of homes on that block, Amir Arbisser — who resides at 644 Beach Road — agreed with Patterson. “I do want to express how strongly wetry to protect the beach there,” he stressed.
After attorney Bailey’s rebuttal, Chair Charles Hines closed the hearing and Commissioner Maio made his motion to approve the variance. “I fully support this,” Maio said of the CSV petition.