Siesta Seen

Condominium Council encouraging members to join Siesta Key Coalition; Siesta Chamber recognizes winners of its annual awards; Condominium Council asking for help in response to bicycle thefts; Feb. 9 next meeting date for Condominium Council members; and construction project continues on Higel Avenue

This graphic produced by the Siesta Key Coalition in September 2020 shows the site of the proposed 170-room hotel, in yellow, and condominium association members in opposition to it as of mid-September 2020, in blue. Many more associations have joined the Coalition since then. Image courtesy of Mark Spiegel

The organization fighting proposed hotels on the Key whose developers need County Commission approval to exceed the island’s standard zoning provisions continues to grow, its chair has pointed out.

In a Jan. 25 email to The Sarasota News Leader, Mark Spiegel, reported of the Siesta Key Coalition, “We are now up to 22 Associations on Siesta Key representing nearly 2000 households. A few more considering joining.”

The Coalition, which has achieved 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, was established last summer, initially in response to plans for a 170-room hotel on what the attorney for the developers calls “the edge of Siesta Village.”

In a Jan. 29 email blast, the Siesta Key Condominium Council (SKCC) provided its members its latest recommendation for membership in the organization.

“The SKCC strongly urges all Siesta Key Condominium Associations to become a part of this important fight to preserve our Iconic Siesta Key,” Frank Jurenka, the SKCC’s president, wrote with emphasis in the email blast.

“The URL below is access to the Coalition webpage where a list of condos that have joined the fight can be found,” he continued:

Mark Spiegel participates in the Dec. 9, 2020 Siesta Key Association meeting, conducted via Zoom. News Leader image

“The webpage also includes a wealth of information on the activities of the Coalition, multiple recent newspaper or online publication articles discussing concerns, a live video presentation of the SK Coalition’s perspective, and a prior press release,” Jurenka added.

“If … your Condominium Association wishes to join in this fight by becoming a ‘Community Supporting Member,’ thus allowing the Coalition to place your support information on its website and advertise added support for its efforts, the Coalition is requesting a Support Letter,” Jurenka pointed out. “An example of this can be found on the website,” he noted.

That letter is from the Siesta Isles Association.

Dated Oct. 17, 2021 and signed by Siesta Isles Association (SIA) President Pamela Atkins, the letter is addressed to Spiegel of the Coalition. She noted that Spiegel had made a presentation to the Siesta Isles Association Board of Directors on Oct. 15, 2020.

During his remarks that day, she noted, Spiegel had focused on plans for the eight-story, 170-room hotel that would stand between Calle Miramar and Beach Road.

Since then, the Coalition has expanded its efforts to oppose the planned 120-room hotel that Siesta businessman Gary Kompothecras wants to construct on Old Stickney Point Road, plus the redevelopment of the Siesta Key Beach Resorts and Suites in Siesta Village from 55 rooms to 170.

Akins pointed out in her letter that the SIA board members agreed that not only would the hotel on Calle Miramar “be a detriment to the quality of life on the Key, the change in county density per unit … would also open a Pandora’s Box that would allow high-rise hotels throughout Siesta Key and on all the other barrier islands in Sarasota County. Such a change would forever alter the ambience and lifestyle of this part of the West Coast of Florida.”

This is the proposed amendment to county Future Land Use Policy 2.9.1 that the Calle Miramar hotel team submitted to the county in May 2020. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The Calle Miramar project team also has proposed amendments to the county’s Comprehensive Plan and its Unified Development Code (UDC), which contains all the zoning and land-development regulations. Those would eliminate any residential density consideration for hotel rooms on property zoned for commercial purposes on the barrier islands within the county’s jurisdiction.

During the county’s required Neighborhood Workshop on the Calle Miramar proposal, William Merrill III, a partner with the Sarasota law firm Icard Merrill, emphasized that research had shown that neither Casey Key nor Manasota Key has property zoned for commercial purposes; thus, the amendments would apply only to Siesta Key.

In a Jan. 21 letter to the Sarasota County commissioners, Spiegel, Jurenka and Catherine Luckner, the Siesta Key Association president, pointed out that the Siesta Key Community Plan, which was adopted in 1999, “became the precursor for the later legislative enactment of the codes and regulations of the Siesta Key Overlay District (SKOD) in 2002 and the … Future Land Use [policies] for the Barrier Islands (FLU) including Siesta Key,” which are part of the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

Frank Jurenka is president of the Siesta Key Condominium Council. File photo

The SKOD encompasses all the zoning rules for Siesta Key.

“The intent of these existing policies was to designate the special land use category for unique barrier islands, including Siesta Key, relative to mainland Sarasota County, recognizing that ‘development on the barrier island was of special concern’ and ‘to underscore these special considerations density and intensity of future development may not exceed that allowed by existing zoning,’” the Jan. 21 letter added.

Moreover, the letter said, “Hotel density equivalency factors have been utilized elsewhere in Florida, especially coast towns and barrier islands, and serve to control the number of hotel units per acre to maintain Siesta Key’s community character, sense of place and control the commensurate impacts.”

Jurenka also noted in his Jan. 29 SKCC email blast, “If your Condo representative wishes to gain additional information, the SK Coalition leader is available for discussion.” Spiegel’s email address, Jurenka added, is

Siesta Chamber presents its annual awards

During the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Awards Dinner, held on Jan. 28 at the Lido Beach Resort, “[N]ominees and recipients were recognized and celebrated for their outstanding business achievement, volunteerism, and community engagement,” the Chamber has reported.

Shawn McLoughlin. Photo from his website

The following winners were announced:

  • Nancy Mulvey — Sharon Cunningham Visitor Center Volunteer of the Year.
  • Hollis Higgins of Aloha Kai — Shining Star. (A Sarasota News Leader review of a sampling of renters’ comments about accommodations at the condominium complex found plenty of kudos for Higgins. For example, a June 2019 comment singled out Higgins in noting that the office and cleaning staffs “exceeded my expectations. Everyone went beyond the norm to take care of any questions, needs, etc. we had.” A June 2017 comment said, “Hollis Higgins made the whole rental process a wonderful experience from start to finish!” A third, posted in February 2017, offered appreciation to Higgins for recommending a specific unit, which, the writer pointed out, “was even better than what we expected from the photos.”
  • Mark Smith of Smith Architects — Service & Leadership Award.
  • Shawn McLoughlin — Siesta Selfless Award. (In his membership listing on the Siesta Chamber website, McLoughlin notes, “I love to paint local scenes that depict the unique charm of Siesta Key and surrounding areas.”
  • Mike Gatz, manager of Gilligan’s Island Bar & Grill — Business Person of the Year.
  • Signarama — Small Business of the Year.
  • Sabal Palm Bank — Large Business of the Year.
  • Siesta Key Chapel — Community Partner.

The following received Board of Director Service Awards: Mason Tush, chair in 2020; Josh Ludwig (2018-2020); Gabe Hartmann (2018-2020); Mark Smith (2015-2020); and Joye Argo (2016-2020).

Steve Cavanaugh. Photo from his LinkedIn account

The new Chamber chair is Steve Cavanaugh of Tropical Sands Accommodations and RE/MAX Tropical Sands. (In its listing on the Chamber website, Tropical Sands Accommodations says it is the largest vacation rental management company on the island. Its properties range from studios to those with nine bedrooms, the firm adds, with vacation periods ranging from three days to six months. Among its offerings are those at Aloha Kai, the Gulf & Bay Club and Our House at the Beach.)

Tush, whose family owns CB’s Saltwater Outfitters, remains on the board as immediate past chair, and Gatz of Gilligan’s is the chair-elect.

Kara Altice-Montes of Altez Vacations is the treasurer, and Kathleen Elliott of Signarama is the secretary.

The other board members are as follows:

  • Jimmy Bonner of Sherwin Williams.
  • Eric Fleming of The Law Offices of Eric C. Fleming, PA.
  • Helene Hyland of Coldwell Banker.
  • Wendall Jacobsen of Beach Bazaar.
  • Syd Krawczyk of Concept Digital Media.
  • Warren LaBonte of Siesta Beach Concessions and Siesta Sun Deck.
  • Carrie Lewis of Sabal Palm Bank.
  • Mike Lewis of Siesta Key Jet Ski.
  • Russell Matthes of the Daiquiri Deck.
  • Jerry Williams of Abel’s Ice Cream

Bicycle thefts reported

On Jan. 25, the Siesta Key Condominium Council sent out an email blast about bicycle thefts, seeking help.

One of its member condominiums on the island had reported the theft of three bicycles from the complex’s property, the email said. “Do any other Condos have an experience of Bicycle theft or for that matter any theft that they would be willing to share?” the email asked.

“If your condo has any experience with theft, please consider sharing your experience with others to the benefit of all,” the email continued. “Send your response to The information gathered will be consolidated and sent to the full Membership,” it added.

And in other Condo Council news …

The Siesta Key Condominium Council (SKCC) will hold its next meeting, via Zoom, on Tuesday Feb. 9, at 3 p.m., the organization has announced.

The primary speaker will be Mike Anders of the Brown and Brown Insurance in Sarasota, who will discuss the following, an SKCC email blast says:

  • Insurance for 2021 and beyond.
  • How past hurricanes affect the future.
  • Rates and underwriting changes for Siesta Key.
  • Coverage enhancements
  • How your agent helps get you the best coverage and pricing.
  • Wind and flooding policies responding to catastrophic events.
On Nov. 11, 2020, as Tropical Storm Eta was pouring rain on the county, the street in front of the Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites in Siesta Village is flooded. The Terrace East condominium complex is across Ocean Boulevard from the hotel. Contributed photo

A question-and-answer session will follow Anders’ remarks, the email blast says. Any member with a question of a general nature related to condominiums, who would like to have it addressed as a part of Anders’ presentation, may submit it to Questions will be consolidated for his consideration, the email notes.

Questions on other topics will be addressed at the end of the meeting, the email blast says.

To participate in the Feb. 9 Zoom session, which is being sponsored by the Anchorage Condominium Association, see the log-in details below: 
Meeting ID: 815 5110 8510
Passcode: 664423
One tap mobile
+13126266799,,81551108510#,,,,*664423# US (Chicago)
+19292056099,,81551108510#,,,,*664423# US (New York)

To dial by your location:
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington D.C)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
Meeting ID: 815 5110 8510
Passcode: 664423
Find your local number:

FDOT update on Higel project for week of Jan. 31

For the past several months, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has had a project underway on Higel Avenue from Little Pond Lane to Somerset Drive, on the northern part of Siesta Key.

The department had anticipated completion by the end of 2020. However, the work continues.

An aerial map shows Little Pond Lane intersecting with Higel Avenue. Image from Google Maps

FDOT’s projects update for Sarasota County for this week noted that the Higel initiative has been designed to improve drainage, as well as the sidewalk and shoulder from Little Pond Lane to Somerset; road resurfacing was planned, as well.

“The contractor is in final stages of completion and project acceptance,” the FDOT notice says. “Motorists should expect only intermittent lane closures,” if those prove necessary, it adds.

The contractor is Heavy Civil Inc. of North Miami Beach.