No hearing dates yet scheduled for proposal to redevelop Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites in Siesta Village
Sarasota County’s Planning Commission will conduct a Dec. 2 public hearing on the application for a 100-room hotel that would stand at 5810 Midnight Pass Road on Siesta Key, the county’s Planning Division has announced.
The owner of the site — where a Wells Fargo bank operated for many years — is Dave Balot. Formally, he is the principal of ABC SUB2 LLC, which purchased the property from the First Union National Bank of Florida for $4,410,000 on March 4 of this year.
The Sarasota News Leader learned of the hearing date from Mark Spiegel, who is president of the Siesta Key Coalition. A nonprofit, the Siesta Key Coalition was organized in 2020 to fight hotel projects that would exceed the current construction standards in the Siesta Key Overlay District zoning regulations. On its website, the Coalition notes, “In addition to Siesta Key Association, the Siesta Key Condominium Council, and the Corner Properties of Midnight Pass Committee, a total of 71 Associations, representing more than 6,400 households, have joined the Coalition Community Support Group.”
An Oct. 8 News Leader check of the Planning Division’s list of active petitions found a report saying no hearing had yet to be scheduled for Balot’s petitions.
However, Spiegel shared with the News Leader a report that he had received from county staffer Laura Haw, who was serving as the “Planner of the Day” in responding to requests for information about the status of applications submitted to the county.
On Oct. 11, county Media Relations Officer Brianne Grant confirmed the Dec. 2 date for the News Leader.
The Planning Commission hearing will begin at 5 p.m. on Dec. 2 in the County Commission Chambers at the Administration Center located at 1660 Ringling Blvd. in downtown Sarasota.
This will be the third Siesta Key hotel project for the Planning Commission members to consider. Following a public hearing on Aug. 19, the majority of the planning commissioners endorsed the proposal for an 80-foot-tall, 170-room hotel on four parcels located between Calle Miramar and Beach Road. Then, on Sept. 2, a majority again agreed to recommend that the County Commission approve an 83-foot, 120-room hotel on Old Stickney Point Road.
The County Commission is scheduled to conduct its hearing on the Calle Miramar hotel plans on Oct. 27. Then, on Nov. 2, it will hold its hearing on the Old Stickney Point Road proposal.
Both hearings will be the solitary items of business on those agendas, County Administrator Jonathan Lewis has indicated.
The reasoning for that is the expectation of county staff that a large number of individuals will sign up to speak on both occasions.
No date had been set as of this writing for the County Commission to consider the application for the hotel at 5810 Midnight Pass Road.
Further, thus far, no Planning Commission hearing date has been set on an application submitted by Siesta businessman and resident Michael Holderness, who is the principal owner of the Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites located on Ocean Boulevard and Calle Miramar. Holderness wants to demolish the existing buildings, which are decades old, and expand the number of rooms from 55 to 170.
Balot also is one of the owners of that hotel.
In response to a News Leader public records request this week, Planning Division staff provided a fact sheet on that project. That document said that staff’s review of the application for sufficiency purposes remains underway.
Comprehensive Plan and UDC amendments
As noted in a fact sheet that Planner of the Day Haw provided to Spiegel for the proposed hotel at 5810 Midnight Pass Road, Balot is seeking an amendment to county Comprehensive Plan Policy 2.9.1, which governs future land uses on the barrier islands in the unincorporated areas of the county. The amendment would allow property that is 1 acre or larger, and zoned Commercial General within the Siesta Key Overlay District (CG/SKOD) regulations, to be “redeveloped to a new resort/hotel/motel with a maximum density of 52 transient units per acre without violating this policy.”
“Transient accommodations” is the county term for hotel and motel rooms.
Without that amendment — or a County Commission policy decision of a similar nature — the maximum number of hotel or motel rooms allowed on a parcel zoned CG/SKOD would be 26 per acre, if they had no kitchens.
Balot also is seeking an amendment to the county’s Unified Development Code (UDC), which contains all of the county’s land-use and zoning regulations, to allow the extra density in CG/SKOD zones. His UDC amendment proposes a maximum density of 26 hotel rooms per acre when more than 25% of those rooms have kitchens; 52 rooms per acre would be permitted if no more than 25% of them had kitchens.
The site at 5810 Midnight Pass Road encompasses about 2 acres, the application points out.
Finally, he is seeking a Special Exception for transient accommodations on the property, as required by CG/SKOD zoning regulations.
The hotel would stand a maximum of 35 feet over two levels of parking with a total of 321 spaces.
During the June 9 county-mandated Neighborhood Workshop on his plans, Balot maintained that he needs 100 rooms to make the project financially feasible. He initially considered 112 rooms, he told the participants, but, following discussions with Spiegel of the Siesta Key Coalition and representatives of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, he reduced the number to 100.
The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce has filed a proposed UDC amendment of its own with county staff; that would allow no more than 75 rooms without kitchens in a boutique hotel on parcels zoned Commercial General in the Siesta Key Overlay District. However, the County Commission still would have to approve a Special Exception petition for such a development, Chamber leaders agreed.
Planning Division staff ultimately will present the Chamber proposal to the County Commission for its direction.
The Chamber filed its suggested amendment during the most recent cycle for such proposals, which ended in mid-September. Michele Norton, assistant director of the county’s Planning and Development Services Department, told the News Leader last month that it was too early to anticipate a timeline for the staff’s presentation to the County Commission on the latest batch of UDC amendments.
Moreover, the application for the Calle Miramar hotel calls for the elimination of residential density considerations for hotels countywide. As that proposal will be the first of the four hotel initiatives to undergo County Commission review, an affirmative board vote on that facet of the application would affect the other three hotel projects, county Planning staff has pointed out to the News Leader.