Public hearing set May 22 on extending TUP ordinance for Siesta Village bars, restaurants

The Sarasota County Commission listens to a staff presentation. Photo by Norman Schimmel

No Siesta Village bar or restaurant has utilized a temporary use permit since the Sarasota County Commission adopted an ordinance on June 8, 2011, authorizing such a process.

Nonetheless, the commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the morning of May 22 to consider an extension of the ordinance’s sunset date, from June 8 this year until June 8, 2014.

Before gaining the commission’s unanimous approval on April 11 to hold the public hearing, Donna Thompson, assistant county zoning administrator, pointed out that the TUP ordinance evolved from staff discussions with representatives of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, the Siesta Key Merchants Association and local neighborhood associations.

Those same stakeholder groups, she said, had suggested the extension of the sunset date.

Russell Matthes, president of the Siesta Key Village Association, told The Sarasota News Leader on May 1 that the reason he believed no TUPs had been pulled was the fact that they were not cost-effective.

He pointed out that the TUP ordinance allows for special events on the following holidays: New Year’s Eve (valid until 12:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day), St. Patrick’s Day, Memorial Day, July Fourth (valid until 12:30 a.m. on July 5), Labor Day and Thanksgiving.

Siesta Village bars and restaurants normally plan special events for those holidays, Matthes said. The ideal time for the use of a TUP, he added, would be a slow time of the year.

Prior to the County Commission’s adoption of the TUP ordinance last year, SKA board members had voiced support for the process, saying they felt it would allow the restaurateurs and other Siesta Village businesses to collaborate on special events to bring in extra income, but that it also would alleviate problems with excess noise and traffic.

In the preceding months, some SKA board members had voiced worries that Siesta Village businesses might hold numerous special events throughout the year, with loud music and parking problems causing headaches, literally, for neighboring residents.

All county noise regulations apply to the TUPs.

The ordinance does allow for a TUP to include an extra day immediately before or after the holiday for which it is obtained, but the TUP is valid only until 10 p.m. that second day.

Furthermore, if a second day is requested by one entity, all subsequent Siesta Village properties requesting a TUP for that same holiday, and desiring a second day for the event, must select the same second day.

None of the county commissioners commented on the lack of utilization of TUPs before they voted April 11 to approve the May 22 public hearing.