County Commission nixes plans for two hotels on Nokomis site near SMH-Venice and Sheriff’s Office Support Services Facility

Commissioners Neunder and Rainford cite worries about intensification of traffic

This graphic shows the site where the hotels would have stood, outlined in yellow. Image courtesy Sarasota County

After an abbreviated presentation by the representative of the applicant, the Sarasota County commissioners last week voted unanimously to deny petitions that would have resulted in the construction of two 65-foot-tall hotels at the intersection of Twin Laurel Boulevard and Laurel Road in Nokomis.

Commissioners Neil Rainford and Joe Neunder contended that the proposal would lead to even greater traffic intensity in the affected area, especially in light of the fact — as Rainford pointed out — that Sarasota Memorial Hospital’s Venice campus, the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Support Services Facilityand the Laurel Nokomis School already are in the immediate environs.

Without an improved roadway network, Rainford said, “I think this [further] intensity can’t happen …” He predicted that the hotels would lead to “intensifying [traffic] significantly.”

Both Hilton-branded hotels, one would have had 117 rooms; the second, 118, Brian Lichterman, president of Vision Planning & Design LLC in Sarasota, told the board members during their regular meeting on April 9. The latter hotel also was planned with kitchens, the application noted.

The approximately 11.12-acre site is owned by Shreyvan Real Estate LLC, while the developer would have been Keith Patel, who would have managed the site, the application explained.

The registered agent of the limited liability company is Kirit P. Patel, who has a Bradenton address, the Florida Division of Corporations says.

This slide, which Brian Lichterman showed the commissioners, has more details about existing structures in the area of the site. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The application sought approval of a Small Scale Comprehensive Plan amendment to redesignate the property as Commercial Highway Interchange (CHI). The land is marked on the county’s Future Land Use Map as Moderate Density Residential, which allows between two and five dwelling units per acre.

Lichterman told the commissioners that his client was seeking the rezoning of the site from Open Use Estate, which allows one dwelling unit for very 5 acres, to CHI, along with a Special Exception to erect the hotels as tall as 65 feet, since the maximum height in the CHI zoning district is 35 feet.

Finally, Lichterman noted the need to change the Adopted I-75 Corridor Plan to make clear that the site had been zoned CHI, if the board members approved the proposal.

A proposal to serve SMH-Venice and major employers in the area

Although the application was listed as a Presentation Upon Request on the April 9 agenda — meaning no remarks would be made by the applicant or county staff, unless requested — Neunder and Rainford both asked for a presentation.

County Rules of Procedure allow an applicant 20 minutes to make a presentation, but Lichterman took only about 10 minutes to show the board members a series of slides as he noted the primary objectives of his clients.

“There is adequate water and sewer and arterial roadway capacity” for the development, he pointed out. Moreover, he continued, “Approximately 67% open space is being provided [in the Binding Development Concept Plan].”

The site, he said, is west of Interstate 75 and north of Laurel Road.

The county staff report pointed out that the property “is largely bordered by Moderate Density Residential [zoning] to the north and east.”

To the south, Lichterman added, is an area within the city of Venice.

This slide shows the design planned for the Homewood Suites hotel. Image courtesy Sarasota County

In the application, Lichterman wrote, “In addition to the general demand for hotel rooms in the area by travelers along I-75, a number of employers in the overall South County Area have generated demand in this area, making the hotels a destination, particularly for family visiting patients at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital.”

His application narrative continued, “The recently opened Sarasota Memorial Regional Hospital at I-75 and Laurel Road will make the two hotels a destination for family members and visiting health care practitioners visiting the hospital. The MEC (Major Employment Center) area located east of the proposed hotel sites at I-75 and Laurel Road where PGT and thousands of other jobs are located will also benefit from the proximity of the two hotels. The MEC area at I-75 and Jacaranda Boulevard where the proposed Amazon Distribution Facility is located and the recently completed [$125-million] Atlanta Braves Stadium in North Port to the south will also be users of the two hotels.”

One hotel would be a Home2 Suites property, Lichterman told the commissioners, while the other would be a Homewood Suites. The application said that each would have a pool.

Commissioner Neunder did ask county Planner Everett Farrell, who was handling the application, about the Future Land Use designation of the property directly west of the site, which abuts it. Farrell replied that the Venice City Council had changed the zoning to Commercial General, but he had no documentation of the Future Land Use designation for it.

This was the proposed Binding Development Concept Plan for the project. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Farrell did point out that that the nearly 60-acre site to the west is known as the “Hurt assemblage,” indicating that the owners plan to develop it. The Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office lists the owners as Randall C. Hurt, the Joseph  W. Hurt Trust, and Mary McMullen, with a Cape Coral mailing address. The property’s address is 2001 Laurel Road in Nokomis.

No members of the public had signed up to address the proposal, Chair Michael Moran announced at the conclusion of the presentation and no other member of the board had questions for staff or Lichterman.

When Moran asked for the will of the board, Rainford made the motion to deny all five of the applicant’s requests.

After apparently conferring with County Attorney Joshua Moye, Moran explained that the Comprehensive Plan amendment had to be addressed first, before motions could be put forth on the other application petitions.

Rainford then revised his motion, seeking to deny approval of the Comprehensive Plan amendment, and Neunder seconded the motion.

Rainford initially commented on his concerns about the impact of the project on the surrounding residential neighborhoods.

Neunder concurred with Rainford. Moreover, Neunder said, he did not feel the proposed height of the hotels was compatible with the development existing in the immediate area. “I live very close to there,” he added, referencing his concerns about the latter point.

After the denial motion passed 5-0, Moran asked Moye whether the board members needed to vote on the other four requests in the application. Moye explained that since the Comprehensive Plan amendment failed, the commissioners did not need to consider the other parts of the agenda item.

1 thought on “County Commission nixes plans for two hotels on Nokomis site near SMH-Venice and Sheriff’s Office Support Services Facility”

  1. Remarkable that the obvious need for hotel space was ignored in this decision. It’s at the core of Benderson’s notion of a mega-hotel on Siesta Key – and the Board doesn’t seem troubled about traffic, or the total transformation of a community’s way of life, on the barrier island.

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