Siesta Seen

New Sandal Factory shop expected to open later this month; more thoughts offered on FDOT’s drainage project; hearing set on Cosentino’s lawsuit against county; Cosentino wages another legal battle; Condo Council supports SOSS2 in fighting Big Pass dredging; and Siesta Chamber’s 2017 officer slate announced

Work progressed in November 2016 on the home of the Sandal Factory in Siesta Village. Rachel Hackney photo

Within another week to 10 days, the newest store on Ocean Boulevard in Siesta Village should be open: the Sandal Factory, on the site of the former 7-Eleven store.

Jim Syprett — who co-owns the property with Jay Lancer — told The Sarasota News Leader on Jan. 9 that he was just in the Village that morning to check on the progress, adding that he was really pleased with how the final details were coming together. The interior flooring was being laid that day, he noted, while a few exterior projects remained.

“It has a factory look,” he explained of the store concept. Inside, “you can see the underside of the roof and the [air conditioning] duct work.”

The interior also features a number of large TV screens, he said. “It should be a fun store.”

Mark Smith of Smith Architects in the Village — who has worked with Syprett and Lancer on the project — told the News Leader in a separate Jan. 9 telephone interview, “The contractor’s been dong a good job.”

This has been his first experience with the firm, Smith said, and it has been a positive one.

County permitting records show that the general contractor is Coral Cove Construction Inc. of Sarasota.

Syprett said the tentative timeline calls for a Jan. 20 opening of the store, but it could be as late as the middle of the following week before the doors formally open.

The Sandal Factory website shows a prominent attraction in Key West. Image from the website

Along with a full line of shoes — not just sandals — the shop will feature some clothing, sunglasses and sunscreen. Syprett and Lancer’s most recent retail venture on Ocean Boulevard prior to this — Gidget’s Coastal Provisions — no longer carries the Margaritaville line of clothing, Syprett noted, but he expects The Sandal Factory to feature some of that company’s products.

“We’re thrilled,” Syprett added of the new Village business. “We’re glad to see them in there.”

Syprett and Lancer bought the property almost exactly a year ago — on Jan. 19, 2016. The 7-Eleven store had stood in that location for about 15 years.

It took a bit of time for them to decide on the type of tenant they wanted, as Syprett explained in early 2016. During the Jan. 9 telephone interview, he pointed out that the Sandal Factory has a number of other locations, all in beach communities. “They’ve been very successful.”

The company’s website lists stores in Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon and Key West; the original Sandal Factory opened in 1996.

“I think they’re a really nice addition to the Village,” Syprett added.

The FDOT drainage project

Mark Smith, who also is chair of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, told the News Leader on Jan. 9 that he felt less concern about the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) drainage project at the intersection of San Remo Terrace and Siesta Drive than he did before Christmas.

After Ann Frescura, the chamber’s executive director, returned from her holiday break, Smith said, she was able to talk with FDOT representatives. They assured her he continued, that the contractor was going to try to keep lane closures to nighttime hours.

An aerial view shows the project area, just east of the Siesta Drive bridge to Siesta Key. Image courtesy FDOT

Work was scheduled to start on Jan. 9.

“I’m going to be optimistic,” Smith added. He did understand, he said, that FDOT needed to undertake the work during the dry months.

Nonetheless, Smith pointed out, “under good conditions,” when the north drawbridge to Siesta Key opens, “traffic backs up to [U.S] 41” during tourist season. That bridge stays open 4 minutes, he added. “I’ve timed it.”

If one lane of travel on Siesta Drive is closed for 15 or 20 minutes — especially during the daytime — Smith said FDOT representatives “will hear the phone ringing off the hook.”

The $200,000 project is expected to be completed this spring, FDOT noted in a flyer it distributed in December 2016.

A court date, at last

A dilapidated groin extends into the Gulf of Mexico on the parcel at 10 Beach Road. File photo

The Office of the Sarasota County Attorney has won a court date on its motion to dismiss the lawsuit Siesta resident Mike Cosentino filed last June over the County Commission’s abandonment of a 357-foot segment of North Beach Road.

Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Frederick Mercurio has set aside 30 minutes for a hearing at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 13, in the Judge Lynn N. Silvertooth Judicial Center in downtown Sarasota.

Although Cosentino filed his lawsuit in June 2016, it was not served on the county until Oct. 10, 2016 — almost at the end of the time period provided for that action.

In the meantime, Cosentino already has had a day in court on a related matter.

Regular readers may recall that in September 2016, Cosentino was charged with violating the county’s ordinance that prohibits operating a motor vehicle on the beaches. A Sheriff’s Office deputy cited him for a misdemeanor on Sept. 8, 2016 after spotting Cosentino’s truck parked in the vicinity of the property Cosentino purchased last year at 10 Beach Road. The citation said the vehicle was on the segment of beach west of the intersection of North Beach Road and Avenida Messina.

A document filed in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court on Jan. 5 says the case was “downfiled to a civil infraction,” and Cosentino was given 30 days to pay a fine or to contest the citation.

Mike Cosentino’s truck publicizing his Reopen Beach Road initiative has become a common sight on Siesta Key. File photo

Judge Maryann Boehm signed the form.

A notation on the form indicates the State Attorney’s Office chose to amend the case.

However, in a handwritten letter he filed with the court on Jan. 6, Cosentino continued to dispute the allegation that he had violated a county ordinance, and he requested a hearing to present evidence on his claims, which he had outlined in a motion to dismiss the case. He filed that on Dec. 14, 2016.

Cosentino pointed out in the motion that he owns the property at 10 Beach Road and that the plat “depicts a public right-of-way of sixty (60) feet that abuts [the parcel].”

Cosentino argued that, based on the plat, his vehicle was not on land that “meets the definition of ‘beaches’ or ‘dune’ as set forth [in county ordinance].”

The motion continues, “[T]here are no material facts in dispute that establish the guilt of Mr. Cosentino. As a matter of law, parking a vehicle on one’s own property cannot be criminalized without violating the takings clause of the Florida Constitution. Alternatively, even if the facts establish that Mr. Cosentino’s vehicle was parked partially on his property and in the public right-of-way, that location is not upon a beach for which criminal liability can be imposed under the Ordinance.”

It further says, “An additional constitutional question is raised by the lack of any criminal intent required to violate the Ordinance” and that “the Ordinance was not intended to criminalize ingress and egress to one’s own property from the right-of-way [or] to apply to private property at all. This is best illustrated by the officer’s Incident Report in this case where, after reviewing the property boundary line on the Property Appraiser’s website, the officer stated: ‘it would be impossible to determine the exact property line without an official survey.’”

Derek Byrd of the Byrd Law Firm in Sarasota filed the motion.

Mike Cosentino addresses the County Commission on Oct. 25, 2016. File photo

In response to it, Assistant State Attorney Justin Foster filed a Traverse on Dec. 30, 2016, arguing that “the portion of the property where Mr. Cosentino’s vehicle was parked does meet the definition of ‘beach’ or ‘dune’ as set forth [in the county ordinance].” Foster asked the court to deny Cosentino’s motion, which was 12 pages long.

In a formal response to Cosentino’s motion — also filed on Dec. 30, 2016 — Assistant County Attorney David Pearce pointed out that on Oct. 10, 1972, the County Commission originally adopted an ordinance prohibiting the operation of vehicles on the gulf beaches. Over the years, he continued, the board has amended the law to provide “limited exceptions for emergency vehicles and maintenance vehicles.
Nonetheless, Pearce continued, the code defines “Beaches” as “the zone of unconsolidated material, such as sand or shell, that extends landward from the mean low-water line to the place where there is a marked change in material, such as sand to pavement, or physiographic form, or to the line of vegetation.”

He added that Cosentino “wrongly argues that the County cannot regulate activities on private property,” and that, therefore, the ordinance is unconstitutional.

That response was nine pages long.

Condo Council publicizes Lido project meeting

The Siesta Key Condominium Council (SKCC) has distributed an email blast to all of its members about the Jan. 26 meeting Save Our Siesta Sand 2 (SOSS2) has planned on the Lido Key Renourishment Project.

In its Jan. 5 announcement, the Condo Council points out that during its Jan. 3 board meeting, “the matter of continuing support of the Save Our Siesta Sands 2 activity to block the … Florida Department of Environmental Protection [issuance of a permit for the dredging of Big Sarasota Pass] and its Shoal, was discussed.”

“The SKCC Board, in an unanimous vote, based on feedback from the Siesta Key Condos being against any form of Big Pass Dredging,” agreed to send out a copy of the meeting notice, the email added.

SKCC President Frank Jurenka signed the announcement on behalf of the board.

SOSS2 used this logo in its announcement about the Jan. 26 meeting. Image courtesy of SOSS2

The SOSS2 meeting will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26, at St. Boniface Episcopal Church.

The Condo Council email also reminded members about the organization’s upcoming meetings on Jan. 17, when Commissioner Alan Maio will provide the annual “State of the County” address; Feb. 21, when Mike Anders of Brown and Brown Insurance will be the featured speaker; and March 21, which will be the annual membership meeting. The March event, the email says, will serve as “an opportunity for SKCC members to voice opinions/priorities as to the direction of the SKCC.”

All the sessions will be held at Siesta Chapel, located at 4615 Gleason Ave. on the north end of the island. The Jan. 17 meeting will begin at 3:30 p.m.

Chamber’s 2017 officer slate

The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce has announced its slate of officers for 2017. They are Mark Smith of Smith Architects, chair; Wendall Jacobsen of Beach Bazaar, chair-elect; Alana Tomasso of Midnight Cove, immediate past chair; Maria Bankemper of the Best Western Plus-Siesta Key Gateway hotel, treasurer; and Nikki Logan Curran of Mattison’s Forty-One, secretary.

The Chamber will hold its Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27, at the TPC Prestancia Clubhouse, located at 4409 Tournament Players Club Drive in Sarasota. The cost is $40 per person, which includes dinner (to be served at 7 p.m.) and a cash bar.

Attendees must be registered in advance, the Chamber newsletter says. Click on this link to register.