Siesta Seen

Siesta Key ‘SIN’ Party cancelled; Saba Sands II coastal variance petition on hold for time being; the Key has a long zoning history; a stabbing takes place at The Beach Club; and autopsy completed on drowning victim

A banner on ticket in June touted plans for the Siesta Key SIN Beach Party. Image from the website

An Aug. 15 party planned with DJs on the sandbar in Big Sarasota Pass — announced late this spring on Facebook — has been cancelled, The Sarasota News Leader has learned. The event had raised more questions than answers, based on comments the News Leader heard.

A business called Elemental Soul Productions located in the Tampa Bay area originally said on its website that it was following up its Treasure Island SIN Beach Party in June with this new event “on the beautiful Big Pass Sand Bar surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico …” The Siesta SIN Party’s Facebook page pointed out, “You NEED a boat/yacht/water cruiser for this one! This will be a ticket event. More details to come!”

The Facebook page also noted that the event would begin at 10 a.m. and continue until 6 p.m. As of June 19, the page indicated that 180 people were planning to attend, even though the party was going to be on the Tuesday following the first day of the 2017-18 school year in Sarasota County.

The tickets, which were available through, were advertised at $10 for general admission, the News Leader learned.

The party’s Facebook page had this information in late June. Image from the Siesta Key SIN Beach Party Facebook page

The Treasure Island SIN Beach Party was held on June 20, based on that event’s Facebook page, which also provided this information: “Beach Day at Treasure Island! Bringing out the DJ gear to just have a chill day with alcohol, vibes and industry folk. Take a breather from the weekend and soak in some sun! We also have a special deal just for us on the Freestyle Slide right next to our setup spot. BOGO all day! Publix is right across the street. Parking is $2/hr and credit card ONLY. Bathroom facilities only feet away. I will have a generator going to supply power all day! Make sure you bring business cards! Let’s all NETWORK!!!”

The Facebook page for the Siesta Key SIN Beach Party pointed out that five DJs were signed up to perform: Luis Martinez “(Tribal, Latin, Tech House)”; Yewplay “(Top 40 Remixes, House, Tropical)”; DjCardinal Albury “(Reggae, Dancehall, Soca)”; Jeff Haze “(House Music)”; and MPSoup “Born in South America (Venezuela) ….. worked with Tourism for more than 10years, Graduated from Culinary School in Davie FL, Photographer since 2002, moved to Tampa in 2007, started DJing Professionally in 2008, Today MPSoup plays at the most known venues in the Greater Tampa Bay/Clearwater/St. Pete area, bringing from Open Format, Top 40, EDM, to any unconventional/underground genre required to uplift any crowd, specialized in Corporate Events, Weddings and Theme Events (Marathons, Fashion Shows, Charity Events, City Events, Latin Parties etc.).”

Additionally, the Facebook information said that the organizers wanted to clarify how they could charge for the Siesta event, since it was going to be off the shore. Their response was, “This is still a public sand bar. We do not have exclusivity to it. To that I am hosting this event in accord to the Service Industry people as a day of good music and professional networking. Sure there are free bands that play on this sand bar all the time, 10% of the net ticket sales I will be hand delivering to Siesta Key for Beach Care & Wildlife Protection even though they aren’t asking for one penny. I have been in direct contact with them and any and all fees/permits if required will be taken care of. I will keep an honest [and] open tally for everyone to see … what the final figure is along with me meeting with them to show just cause.”

The Elemental Soul Productions website has this banner. Image from the website

On June 19, the Facebook page continued, “Also remember we’re supporting Siesta Key’s Save Our Sands fund to protect and maintain Big Pass Sand Bar!”

The Facebook page added, “For everyone following this event this is the movement I’m supporting and a portion of the ticket sales will be donated back to Siesta Key as a thank you from all of us that attend. Save Our Siesta Sand [SOSS2]

When the News Leader contacted Peter van Roekens, chair of Save Our Siesta Sand 2, he had no knowledge of the event; the organizers had not contacted him.

It is possible, the News Leader speculates, that the organizers read about the Party on the Pass held May 13 as a means of publicizing efforts of SOSS2 and the Siesta Key Association to prevent the dredging of Big Sarasota Pass for the renourishment of South Lido Key Beach. That event is held on the sandbar, with people invited to come by whatever watercraft they choose to use. However, no admission is charged; instead, donations are welcomed.

The News Leader tried repeatedly to contact Elemental Soul Productions, but it never received a response. The publication was able to find just an email address for the business; no phone number was provided.

After Siesta Key Association (SKA) directors learned about the planning for the party, Vice President Catherine Luckner was able to reach Marcus Anderson with Elemental Soul Productions, she told the News Leader. He wrote her in an email that the organizers had completed the paperwork for a Temporary Use Permit from the county.

SKA Vice President Catherine Luckner. File photo

Then Luckner contacted Carolyn Brown, director of the Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, to find out whether Brown was aware of the event. Brown evidently was not, but she let Luckner know later that she had asked Zoning Administrator Donna Thompson about it. Thompson had heard of the planning for the party, Thompson responded to Brown in an email shared with the News Leader. Thompson added in that June 23 email, “Code Enforcement was going to contact the event planner and discuss. I believe that the Sheriff is aware of the event. Last time we had an event such as this, in working with our Environmental Protection Division, it was determined that these waters were within the State’s jurisdiction and enforcement was not the County’s responsibility.”

When the News Leader asked for comments this week from the Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, county Media Relations Officer Jason Bartolone confirmed in an Aug. 1 email what Brown had conveyed to Luckner: “Staff from the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources and Planning and Development Services departments are aware of the event and have been in contact with the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.” He did report, however, that the organizers would need to apply for and obtain a Temporary Use Permit from the county for such an event.

Bartolone added that staff understood the party has been cancelled.

By Aug. 1, the News Leader was unable to find any websites or the Facebook page originally linked to the Siesta Key SIN Beach Party. A Google search turned up the Facebook notice that the event had been cancelled “(for now).”

More information, please

A graphic included with the Saba Sands II application to the county shows existing vegetation on the property. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Regular readers of the News Leader will recall that on May 18, a limited liability company filed an application for a Coastal Setback Variance to construct a three-story, single-family home and pool on property that lies west of the house located at 654 Beach Road. The construction would be on land that is completely seaward of the county’s Gulf Beach Setback Line (GBSL), which Weiqi Lin, a member of the county’s Environmental Permitting Division staff, has described to the County Commission as the figurative line in the sand “to protect the public interests and your investment.”

The GBSL was established in 1978; in recent years, the County Commission has refused to allow any homes to be built west of it.

In response to a News Leader request for an update this week on the status of the Saba Sands II LLC application, county Media Relations Officer Jason Bartolone wrote in an Aug. 1 email, “The project review is currently on hold, pending a response to a ‘request for additional information’ the county sent to the applicant’s team on June 26.” This project would necessitate approval of the County Commission after a public hearing, Bartolone pointed out, “because it proposed construction seaward of the Gulf Beach Setback Line, but a meeting date will not be scheduled until the application materials are deemed complete.”

Saba Sands II, whose manager is attorney William A. Saba of Sarasota, filed the application for the variance. The company

also wants to use Beach Access 10, which is adjacent to the land, as access to the house, according to the materials submitted to the county in May.

A bit of Key history

Lourdes Ramirez talked recently of the hours she has spent, poring through Sarasota County public records. Between 2005 and 2007, she told the News Leader in a recent email, she had to resort to microfiche as she researched the Key’s zoning history.

Longtime Siesta residents will recall that county staff was looking into allowing duplexes on Siesta’s non-conforming lots of record, based on staff claims that those lots were designed for duplexes. In 2007, Ramirez wrote in her email, she located old files and maps to prove that those lots indeed never were intended for duplexes.

A copy of a page of County Commission minutes from December 1953 includes discussion of Siesta matters. Image courtesy Lourdes Ramirez

On a late July day, she continued, she was going through some of her old files when she came across minutes of long-ago County Commission meetings. Some of them, she added, had interesting information. For example, she wrote, “Did you know the first zoning code created was for Siesta Key in 1953 followed by [one for] Casey Key in 1954?” The countywide zoning code was not created until 1960, she pointed out. “Unfortunately, we only have minutes to show there was a Siesta Key zoning code in 1953,” she added. However, she does have actual records of the code itself dating to 1960.

Ramirez also sent the News Leader a copy of a page from County Commission minutes taken in 1953. It lists actions by E.S. Boyd, on behalf of the Siesta Key Association, to rename some of the island’s roads. Ramirez said she believes that Boyd Park, which is located at the intersection of Midnight Pass Road and Higel Avenue — just north of the Ocean Boulevard turnoff — must have been named after this Mr. Boyd.

Dated Dec. 21, 1953, the minutes note that the regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners was held in the courthouse with Chairman Leach calling the session to order at 10 a.m.

E.S. Boyd, president of the Siesta Key Association, appeared before the commission “to request that the 14-acre island off Siesta Key, which the county is seeking to acquire, be retained as a bird sanctuary,” the minutes read. “Mr. Boyd further stated that he believed any commercial development of the island would tend to jeopardize the value of property on Siesta Key.”

Further, the minutes say, at Boyd’s recommendation, “the board agreed unanimously to furnish section maps of the zoned area on Siesta Key for use by the Zoning Commission to aid in setting up the zoning districts.”

Boyd Park is located on the north end of Siesta Key, at the intersection of Midnight Pass Road and Higel Avenue. Image from Google Maps

As for the section Ramirez mentioned in her email: Boyd asked the county commissioners to change the names of four streets on the island. Among them, he sought the renaming of “Harry Higel Avenue from the city limits to the intersection of State road 789 and 789 S … to Midnight Pass Road.” He also asked that the board rename the one-block area “at the beginning of Route 789 S” to Ocean Boulevard; and that the unpaved section of Higel Avenue “in the center of the island” be renamed Mid Island Road.

The minutes say that Commissioner Harris “expressed the view that changing the name of a street or other landmark identifying those persons who pioneered the area is a serious matter and should be publicized and advertised and allow the public to decide. The Board deferred action and asked Mr. Boyd to take up the changes with the Postal Department.”

Beach Club stabbing

Andres L. Montilla-Monsalve. Image courtesy Sheriff’s Office

The spilling of a drink in The Beach Club has been linked to an alleged stabbing in late July, the Sheriff’s Office has reported.

Andreas Leonardo Montilla-Monsalve, who listed his address as an apartment at 3463 Bee Ridge Road in Sarasota, was charged with Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon and placed in the county jail on a $75,000 bond as a result of the July 20 incident, a Sheriff’s Office news release says.

As of Aug. 1, Montilla-Monsalve remained in custody; his arraignment was set for Aug. 25, according to Sheriff’s Office’s Corrections records. The Venezuelan native was being held for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, the Corrections document showed.

About 2:19 a.m. on July 20, 911 calls were made to the Sheriff’s Office to report a fight involving two men and a possible gun near The Beach Club, located at 5147 Ocean Blvd., a Sheriff’s Office news release says.

The victim, Tony Davis, 28, of Sarasota told deputies that he arrived at The Beach Club about 11:45 on July 19. While he was inside, he said, “a brief altercation” occurred, during which two men knocked over his drink. Although a verbal dispute ensued, the report continues, “no physical contact occurred.”

At closing time, Davis told officers, he walked out of the club and was confronted in the adjacent parking lot. A man Davis later identified as Montilla-Monsalve asked Davis about the incident in the club and then allegedly struck Davis in the face, the report says. Both men ended up on the ground, the report adds, at which time Montilla-Monsalve allegedly stabbed Davis in the lower left side of Davis’ back.

Davis drove himself to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, the news release says. He had to have surgery and the insertion of staples, the report notes.

During a photo line-up conducted by the Sheriff’s Office, the report says, Davis identified Montilla-Monsalve as the person who allegedly stabbed him.

A small parking area is adjacent to The Beach Club. File photo

When officers reviewed video footage from The Beach Club, the report adds, they observed Montilla-Monsalve walking out of the bar and then Davis leaving the club a short time later. The video showed Montilla-Monsalve following Davis minutes before Dispatch received the 911 calls about the stabbing, the report notes. In the video, the report says, officers saw Montilla-Monsalve reappear in front of the club soon after the calls were made.

When he left The Beach Club, the report says, Montilla-Monsalve was wearing a dark shirt, based on the video images. When he reappeared in front of the establishment, the report notes, he was wearing a tank top and using a dark shirt to wipe his face.

Montilla-Monsalve was arrested on July 21, the news release says.

Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court records indicate Montilla-Monsalve’s only other infraction in the county has been a speeding ticket in January 2016. He was stopped for driving 44 mph in a 35-mph zone on McIntosh Road Extension, according to the citation.

Drowning victim’s autopsy confirms cause of death

An autopsy conducted by the District Twelve Medical Examiner’s Office shows that a visitor from Pittsburgh who was found floating facedown in the water near Point of Rocks early on the morning of May 10 did indeed drown, the News Leader has learned.

The News Leader had requested the report; it was not released until last month because of the wait on toxicology reports, according to staff in the Medical Examiner’s Office.

Point of Rocks is at the southern end of Crescent Beach on Siesta Key. Image from Google Maps

Beachgoers looking for shells discovered Aimee Sue Hoover, 44; she apparently had been out snorkeling by herself in the Gulf of Mexico, based on her husband’s statement to Sheriff’s Office personnel. Steven Andrew Hoover, 44, said he had not seen her for 30 to 40 minutes before her body was found, the Sheriff’s Office report said. Steven Andrew Hoover also told the responding officers that she had epilepsy, but “to his knowledge [she] had not had a seizure for over a year and was taking medication as prescribed,” the Sheriff’s Office report noted. The husband “said he did not know of any other medical conditions of the victim,” the report continued.

Several beachgoers took turns doing chest compressions on Aimee Hoover after they pulled her to shore, the report added. When the officers arrived, the report said, paramedics already were on the scene, and Hoover had been pronounced dead.

The autopsy report — signed by Associate Medical Examiner Suzanne R. Utley — says that while drowning was the cause of death, epilepsy and hypertensive heart disease were contributory causes.