County staff also provides details to consultant for Benderson about requirements for tree protection and stormwater management
As a consultant for Benderson Development Co. works on plans to clear the site of the proposed Siesta Promenade mixed-use development, Sarasota County staff has suggested he seek an earthmoving permit.
That is one facet of a detailed, six-page letter that Mark A. Loveridge, the county’s land development manager, sent Clint Cuffle of Water Resource Associates in University Park as follow-up to discussion at the county’s April 18 Development Review Committee (DRC) meeting.
Jim Dierolf of the county’s Environmental Permitting Division noted in the letter that an application would have to be submitted for the earthmoving permit.
On behalf of Benderson and its affiliate, Siesta 41 Associates — the applicant for the Siesta Promenade rezoning that the County Commission approved in December 2018 — Cuffle had sought county staff comments on how to proceed with the clearing of the approximately 24-acre site at the northwest corner of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road.
Benderson plans to construct 414 condominiums/apartments, a 130-room hotel and 140,000 square feet of retail and office space. Litigation is underway in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court to try to halt the project.
Under the “Air & Water Quality” heading of the April 24 letter to Cuffle, Joe Kraus — whose title is Business Professional III in the county’s Environmental Protection Division — noted, “DRC agreed that an Earthmoving application is more appropriate than a Site Development authorization for the proposed work. The Air and Water Quality pollution prevention requirements will apply in either case.”
In response to a Sarasota News Leader question about the DRC recommendation, Media Relations Specialist Brianne Grant wrote in an April 30 email, “The developer would like to remove a number of existing concrete slabs on this site and that work cannot be done under the Site and Development process. It was determined that an Earth Moving permit would be the more appropriate process since it is just concrete removal and not site development.”
The Pine Shores Trailer Park stood on most of the property for decades, as Benderson Project Manager Todd Mathes pointed out to the County Commission during the Dec. 12, 2018 public hearing. The original application for Siesta Promenade that Mathes submitted to county staff in August 2016 says the park was established in the mid-1950s.
A small portion of the site was used for commercial purposes in years past, Mathes also has explained.
Benderson purchased the land in 2005, the application noted.
Additionally, materials Cuffle submitted to the county in advance of the DRC meeting said that 7.10 acres of impervious area would be removed on the Siesta Promenade site. That includes 195 trees, the majority of which would be palms and pines, his documents pointed out.
Almost two entire pages of the county’s April 24 letter to Cuffle focuses on tree protection on the property.
Representing that area of expertise, staff member Darren Semones cited Chapter 54, Article XVIII, Section 54-584 of the County Code of Ordinances, which says, “A Tree Permit will be required prior to any construction, native vegetative removal within the [drip line] of a tree, and/or tree removal.”
Grant told the News Leader in her April 30 email, “Tree Removal permits cannot be issued until Site and Development is permitted under a formal Construction Authorization letter. Trees will not be removed at this time unless they are nuisance and invasive species.”
Semones asked Cuffle to provide staff with a tree survey on the site plan, as required under another section of the County Code. “An accurate tree survey, depicting individual trees by common name and trunk diameter, shall be submitted for review,” Semones continued. “The tree location survey shall be printed on the site plan and shall also clearly denote whether trees are to be saved or to be removed.”
He added, “Trees within the jurisdiction of the Tree Protection Program, requiring illustration on the plan, are those with a trunk diameter greater than 4.5 inches measured at 4.5 feet from the ground and any palms with a trunk height of 4.5 feet or more.”
Further, Semones noted, all Grand Trees, if any are on the site, must be protected.
“Since a tree survey was not used in conjunction with the proposed site plan,” Semones wrote, “it is not clear to what extent the applicant designed and located the proposed improvements to implement the principles of avoidance and then minimization of adverse impacts to trees,” as required by the County Code.
As the Benderson project team worked to gain County Commission approval of Siesta Promenade, it submitted a Binding Site Development Plan to county Planning and Development Services staff. That plan included details about building heights, for example, and locations of vehicle access points. The County Commission reviewed it before voting 3-2 to approve the rezoning of the property. (Commissioners Nancy Detert and Charles Hines cast the “No” votes.)
Semones also pointed out in his comments, “A total of one tree per every 2000 square feet of property will be required for the project area. Both planted trees and existing trees (that are saved) count toward the total tree requirement. Planted trees must be a species from the approved list printed on the tree permit and meet the [specifications of] the Tree Code.”
The approved tree species, he noted, are as follows: “American Elm, Bald Cypress, Buttonwood, Cabbage Palm, Carolina Ash, Dahoon Holly, East Palatka Holly, False-Mastic, Gumbo Limbo, Hickory, Laurel Oak, Live Oak, Loblolly-Bay, Longleaf Pine, Marleberry, Red Maple, Sand Pine, Seagrape, Slash Pine, Southern Magnolia, Southern Red Cedar, Sweet Bay, Sweet Gum, Sugarberry, Water Oak, Wax Myrtle, Yaupon Holly.”
Years before Benderson began its formal application process to construct Siesta Promenade, John McCarthy, then-director of the county’s Parks and Recreation Department, talked of the historical value of a fireplace and chimney on the property Benderson had purchased for the project. He wanted to ensure the structure was relocated for preservation.
In an April 30 telephone interview with the News Leader, McCarthy — the executive director of Historic Spanish Point — explained that the fireplace and chimney were part of the clubhouse for the Pine Shores Trailer Park that previously dominated the site. The clubhouse, he added, was “a big log building,” and such structures were not common in the county.
The clubhouse, he continued, “burned substantially, and the only thing that was left was the fireplace.”
In the April 24 DRC letter, Steven Koski, the county’s archaeologist, stressed, “Approval of a site and development application, demolition or earthmoving permit is conditional to the protection of the [Pine Shores] fireplace/chimney and the concurrent initiation of a mitigation plan for its relocation through and understanding of agreement with … Benderson Development Company LLC, Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, and Sarasota County Historical Resources.”
Koski added that additional details would be provided in a letter to Cuffle.
On another point, the representative of the county’s Environmental Health Division noted in the DRC letter that wells and septic systems “will need to be properly abandoned by the appropriate Florida Licensed Contractor and permitted by the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County.”
Further, a representative of the Stormwater Division explained that a Stormwater Management Plan compliant with the county’s land development and zoning regulations will be required. “That plan should include construction plans and an engineering report that includes a description of the proposed stormwater system as well as drainage calculations demonstrating that the system can adequately provide attenuation and water quality treatment,” the letter said.
Additionally, that staff member called for Cuffle to “verify that the existing impervious areas indicated on the August 25, 2018 Binding Development Concept Plan [for the rezoning of the property] are correct prior to demolition.” A “signed and sealed topographic survey” must provide details about those areas “to justify that [they] are accurately accounted for,” the letter pointed out.
Moreover, the Stormwater section of the letter said that the construction plans must include “totals for pervious and impervious areas (existing and proposed).”
Permits also will be necessary from the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in regard to the stormwater work, the letter noted.