County has no plans to add restrooms at Beach Access 7; ‘No RV Parking’ signs back up at Beach Road spaces by the beach; sewer pipelines to be rehabilitated in Treasure Boat Way and Island Circle basins; county staff proposes to eliminate the sunset date for the Temporary Use Permit ordinance applying to special events at bars and restaurants; and South Siesta Renourishment Project seen from the air
The prospect of restrooms at Beach Access 7 on Siesta Key arose again recently during a Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) meeting.
And it appears the county has no plans to add any at that site, The Sarasota News Leader has learned.
When Paul Parr brought up the matter on April 5, County Commission Chair Al Maio explained that people who live close to the access have been allowing members of the public to use a downstairs restroom in their home, “which they’re gracious to do …”
“I have a stream of people that come to our building desperately looking for a bathroom,” Parr explained of the condominiums he rents across the street from the access. Each unit has a bathroom, he pointed out, but his building has no public facilities.
His only option, Parr added, is to tell people to go to the Village. “There’s definitely a bathroom problem on the beaches,” he pointed out, referring to an insufficiency of public restrooms given the number of residents and tourists who visit the shoreline.
Then the “F” acronym arose: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) rules govern elevation of buildings in flood zones. His understanding, Maio said, is that as long as you improve a structure up to only 50 percent of its value, FEMA does not mandate that the structure be raised. In regard to Access 7, he added that he suspected staff does not want to make improvements to the cottage on the property that would be significant enough to trigger that 50-percent rule.
SKVA Vice President Mark Smith, an architect, confirmed Maio’s understanding about the FEMA rule, noting that the 50-percent rule applies to the appraised value of a nonconforming structure.
However, Smith continued, if a building has been designated historic, it might be exempt from the rule.
If the county were to construct a new restroom facility on the site, Smith pointed out, it would have to be a minimum of 19.4 feet above the zero elevation mark. Estimating that the grade is 4 or 5 feet at Access 7, he continued, the ground floor of the building would have to be about 14 feet above the ground. By the time a ramp was added so the structure could comply with Americans with Disability Act (ADA) guidelines, Smith said, “You’ve got a lighthouse for a bathroom.”
Still, Smith noted, “It could be a beautiful architectural bathroom.”
In response to a News Leader request for information about plans for Access 7, county spokesman Jason Bartolone responded by email: “There are no plans at this time to create public restrooms at Beach Access 7. The design standards for modifying existing buildings on the beach, together with the cottage’s layout and construction, makes it difficult to modify the existing building for use as a public restroom with standard ADA accessibility. For this reason, any future restroom on the property may be a new addition to the existing cottage or a separate building altogether. Implementation of additional improvements at Beach Access 7 would need to be explored in the future, in particular, the due diligence associated with developing a public restroom at that location, including funding needs.”
Bartolone added, “The county is interested in getting the cottage historically designated,” indicating, however, that the necessary work to achieve that goal has not begun.
In a related matter that arose during the County Commission’s April 27 mid-year financial review, Maio said people also have inquired about the county building restrooms at Nora Patterson Bay Island Park, just west of the Siesta Drive bridge to the Key. Someone suggested to him, after the dedication of the improved park, that a group might want to work in cooperation with the county to install such facilities on the site, he added.
“A lot of people go there,” Maio pointed out of the park, adding that restrooms are needed. Nonetheless, he continued, after he explained to the person making the inquiry that “those structures are likely to be well in the air … I never heard any more.”
RV parking on Beach Road
Following this month’s SKVA meeting, Paul Parr told the News Leader that signs prohibiting RV parking in the 12 spaces along Beach Road adjacent to Siesta Public Beach Park had been removed during the improvement project. As a result, Parr said, residents of the Sunset Royale and Crescent Royale condominium complexes across the street had noticed such vehicles in those spots.
In response to a question about that situation, county spokesman Jason Bartolone reported to the News Leader that the signs were being put back in place. Apparently, some miscommunication had led to their disappearance over a period of time, he added.
As part of its Consent Agenda of routine business items on May 10, the County Commission approved two contracts that will result in the rehabilitation of the sanitary sewer system in the Treasure Boat Way and Island Circle basins.
The work is scheduled to get underway in the middle of this summer, with completion expected in early fall, staff memos note. Residents in the immediate areas will be notified by postcards at least two weeks prior to the start of the work, the memos add.
For the Treasure Boat project, the county board approved a $126,955.50 contract with Insituform Technologies; for Island Circle, a $155,011.50 contract with the same firm. The Insituform office closest to Sarasota is in Tampa.
For Treasure Boat Way, the work involves trenchless reconstruction of about 3,750 linear feet of vitrified clay pipe that has a diameter of 8 inches. For Island Circle, the work involves about 4,600 linear feet of the same type of pipe.
The county staff memos say the projects will extend the lifetimes of the pipe by more than 50 years.
And in the event readers are interested — as the News Leader was — the staff memos say the methodology that will be used is called “Cured-in-Place.”
The Insituform website explains that the firm is “a pioneer in cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) technology, explaining that the process “is a jointless pipe-within-a-pipe” that can be used to rehabilitate pipelines ranging in diameter from 6 inches to 96 inches, and it can negotiate bends. The website adds, “Water entering your wastewater system through holes, breaks and joint failures can significantly tax your treatment facilities, especially during storm events.” CIPP “can significantly reduce this infiltration and eliminate leakage from your system,” the website notes, and it is “typically less expensive than conventional methods of sewer repair, even for everyday problems.”
On the morning of May 25, the County Commission will hold a public hearing in downtown Sarasota regarding the removal of the sunset date in the ordinance that governs Temporary Use Permits for special events at restaurants and bars within the Siesta Key Overlay District (SKOD).
A staff memo provided to the board on May 10, seeking authorization to advertise the public hearing — which the commission granted unanimously — explains that the TUP process was established on June 8, 2011. Staff had worked with representatives of the Siesta Key Association, the Siesta Key Village Association and the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce — as well as neighborhood associations on the Key — to develop the regulations, the memo notes.
The ordinance specifies major holidays for which TUPs could be issued, and it provided designated hours. The initial sunset date was June 8, 2012, the memo notes. The County Commission has extended the sunset date twice, with the regulations set to expire again on June 8.
The holidays and hours provided for in the ordinance are as follows, with the starting time no earlier than 11 a.m.:
- New Year’s Eve — valid to 12:30 a.m. New Year’s Day.
- St. Patrick’s Day — valid to 10 p.m.
- Memorial Day — valid to 10 p.m.
- Independence Day — valid to 12:30 a.m. on July 5.
- Labor Day — valid to 10 p.m.
- Halloween — valid to 10 p.m.
- Thanksgiving — valid to 10 p.m.
Furthermore, the ordinance allows for a TUP to include one additional day immediately before or after the holiday for which it is obtained, valid to 10 p.m.
Noise regulations in the Village apply to all TUPs, the law points out.
The memo also notes that since the ordinance was adopted, staff has received only one application for a special event at a restaurant or bar, and it was denied “as it did not meet the criteria established within the Ordinance.”
In May 2014, Donna Thompson, then the assistant county zoning administrator and now the head of that department, told the County Commission that that application was for an event on Halloween, and Halloween was not on the ordinance list at the time. The board vote on May 20, 2014 to extend the sunset date for another two years included the provision that Halloween be one of the holidays.
Since the last extension of the ordinance sunset in 2014, the memo notes, two applications have been filed for TUPs, but both “were cancelled by the applicant prior to issuance.”
A new view
County staff this week sent the county commissioners aerial views of south Siesta Beach, showing them the results of the just completed $21.5-million renourishment project. As commission Chair Al Maio put it recently, residents had made it clear how badly eroded the beach was beforehand.