Preliminary application submitted to county staff
In the aftermath of an appeal of a fine for presenting live music after 10 p.m., Dr. Gary Kompothecras, owner of the Crescent Club on south Siesta Key, is seeking a Special Exception from the County Commission to make such entertainment possible.
As The Sarasota News Leader has reported, a Code Enforcement Special Magistrate last year agreed to fine Kompothecras $4,000 over repeated violations of the requirement that live music at the club had to end at 10 p.m.
During email exchanges following the Special Magistrate’s decision, a representative of the club indicated that Kompothecras might try to win approval for musicians to continue performances after 10 p.m. at the bar, which stands at 6519 Midnight Pass Road. Formally, CCSK Land Holdings LLC — of which Kompothecras is the principal — bought the Crescent Club on Jan. 4, 2019 for $3.4 million.
In late May, the News Leader has learned, Genesis Planning & Development of Bradenton filed a preliminary application with the county’s Planning Division staff, to request the Special Exception. That firm has represented Kompothecras in the past in matters involving Sarasota County regulations and policies.
The narrative provided with the application explained that the county’s Unified Development Code (UDC) — which contains all of the zoning and land-use regulations — requires a Special Exception for a business to provide live indoor and outdoor entertainment after 10 p.m. “The Sarasota County UDC currently only allows recorded music to be played after 10 pm within bars similar to the Crescent Club,” the narrative noted.
Kompothecras’ request, the application continued, is for a Special Exception that would enable live performances until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
“It is relevant to stress that the application does not seek permission to play louder,” the narrative pointed out. “No change to the sound level permitted to be played is either being sought or proposed. The level of sound will continue to be governed by Section 54-118 of the County Code that governs acceptable noise levels. The Crescent Club recently installed sound level devices which are easily viewed by Staff,
Management, and Crescent Club entertainers,” the narrative added. “The County’s sound regulations do not regulate sounds emanating from live performers differently than the sound emanating from recordings,” it said.
The Crescent Club “has been a regular host to multiple, daily live music performers until 10:00 p.m.,” the narrative continued. “The property owner understands what is required to maintain compliance with the County Noise Ordinance.”
As the News Leader also has reported, because the Crescent Club failed to comply with an April 2, 2022 order of the Special Magistrate “to correct the violation” of the county regulation requiring live entertainment to end at 10 p.m., the Special Magistrate imposed the $4,000 fine, “plus interest at the legal rate of 4.25% per annum and a $10.00 recording fee,” as the resulting document stated, with emphasis.
The Special Magistrate’s June 3, 2022 penalty order further pointed out that CCSK Land Holdings had been “duly served with a notice” for the June 3, 2022 hearing, but no one appeared at that event on behalf of the company.
Another section of the narrative in the May application for the Special Exception notes that a Binding Development Concept Plan was attached. That plan shows where the live entertainment would be provided after 10 p.m. The graphic and the narrative note that that space would be no different than the area where musicians have been performing.
The narrative added, “The internal and external portions of the Crescent Club bar, seating areas, kitchen area, restrooms, mechanical facilities, and the like do not directly relate to live entertainers performing after 10pm at the site. As such, they are not shown on the [plan] and would not be bound by the [plan]. These areas have no bearing or effect upon the provision of live Entertainment at the site after 10pm, which is the sole subject matter of this application,” the narrative said.
The Crescent Club property encompasses half an acre, the application points out.
The preliminary application also shows that the county’s Development Review Coordination group has been scheduled to review the request at its June 15 meeting. The members of that group represent county departments and divisions that deal with land-use issues. They provide comments to ensure that applications comply with all relevant county policies and regulations.
Steps in the process
The Planning Division staff will require a Neighborhood Workshop on the proposal. Residents and owners of other property within 750 feet of the Crescent Club should receive notification of that event, in accord with county requirements.
As of late morning on June 7, the News Leader did not find any indication on the Planning and Development Services Department calendar that the workshop had been scheduled.
Commissioner Mark Smith, a Siesta Key resident, won support of three of his fellow board members in March to require that Neighborhood Workshops be conducted in person again. Smith raised the issue on March 7, explaining that residents had conveyed to him their difficulties in trying to participate in virtual workshops, which the county began allowing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Matt Osterhoudt, director of the county’s Planning and Development Services Department, explained that the commissioners would have to approve a new resolution to replace the one agreed to during the pandemic, which called for the virtual workshops.
On April 12, the News Leader learned from Michele Norton, assistant director of Planning and Development, that members of the department were scheduled to meet for the first time that day with staff of the Office of the County Attorney to begin drafting the revised Neighborhood Workshop resolution. Norton added that it likely would be May or early June before the draft would be ready for County Commission review.
The amended resolution is on the agenda for the June 13 regular County Commission meeting, which will be held at the R.L. Anderson Administration Center in Venice.
Ultimately, the Crescent Club Special Exception petition will be heard by the county’s Planning Commission and then the County Commission, during public hearings.