Street setbacks, landscaping details and parking plans the focus of comments from county staff in Dec. 8 letter regarding proposed 120-room hotel and parking garage on south Siesta Key

Document responded to preliminary applications filed in May

These are renderings of the proposed hotel on Old Stickney Point Road. Image courtesy Genesis Planning & Development

It was not until a Dec. 8, 2020 deadline that representatives of several Sarasota County divisions that handle land-development issues provided comments on a preliminary application submitted in May for a seven-story, 120-room hotel and a five-story parking garage planned in the Stickney Point Road/Old Stickney Point Road area of Siesta Key.

A participant in the Dec. 15, 2020 Neighborhood Workshop on the projects noted the Dec. 8 document, which was signed by county Planner Joshua T. Law. “I am sending you this letter to inform you that [the proposed plan has] failed the sufficiency review,” Law wrote of both the hotel and the parking garage proposals.

Among deficiencies cited in the letter is the failure to provide details regarding the ownership of the parcels for the hotel and parking garage, as required by county regulations. (During the Dec. 15 workshop, attorney Charles D. Bailey III of the Williams Parker firm in Sarasota noted that Siesta resident Gary Kompothecras, who is known for his 1-800-ASK-GARY medical and legal referral service, and Kompothecras’ family members are the property owners. The parcels are listed in county records as belonging to limited liability companies.)

Other points, cited by the Zoning Division staff, focus on lack of information showing that the hotel design would conform to the necessary street yard setbacks in the county’s Unified Development Code (UDC), which contains all the county’s zoning and land-development regulations.

For example, one of those comments notes that the required setback between the hotel site, which is zoned Commercial General (CG), and the Sabal Lake Condominium complex, which is zoned Residential Multi-Family, must be 20 feet, plus 12 feet for the additional height that will be sought for the hotel. “While the proposed [structure] appears to meet the required [32-foot] setback,” the comment continued, “the setback is shown as 30 [feet] and should be increased to 32 [feet],” the comment said.

The project team has said the hotel will stand about 80 feet above base flood elevation, although CG zoning allows for a structure to be only 35 feet above base flood elevation. (The latter phrase refers to a Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA)] regulation regarding construction in a flood zone.) The team is seeking a Special Exception from the County Commission for the extra height.

An engineering drawing shows details of the proposed seven-story hotel on Old Stickney Point Road. Image courtesy Sarasota County

A related note pointed out that the required setback of the hotel from Peacock Road — which is planned to be the eastern border of the site — is 42.5 feet,” unless the project team demonstrates otherwise and wins Special Exception approval for a different figure.

In response to a Sarasota News Leader request for a copy of the Dec. 8 letter, the county’s Public Records Division provided the document and the following information from county Planning and Development Services Department staff: “This letter was generated from the 12/8 deadline for staff comments regarding staff’s review for completeness.”

When Siesta resident Janet Emanuel asked about the letter during the Dec. 15 workshop, Robert “Bo” Medred of Genesis Planning & Development in Bradenton, told her that the project team “just received these comments on [Dec. 11, 2020], so we’re in the process of having our consultants go through [the comments].”

Attorney Bailey III also pointed out, “Sometimes you have multiple rounds of sufficiency reviews.” The team members will address county staff members’ comments as the county review proceeds, Bailey added. Often, he continued, a project team is required to provide clarifications and confirmation of specific points. “We’re not disregarding it or discounting its importance,” Bailey explained in reference to the letter. Still, he added, “It’s not unusual to get a whole slew of comments.”

Later, Bailey told Emanuel, “We’re not able [during the workshop] to walk through every provision of the [county Comprehensive] Plan and the [County] Code.”

“So what have you been doing since May?!” Emanuel responded.

She did not get an answer.

During an informal Neighborhood Workshop conducted about the projects on Dec. 2, Medred explained that, typically, it takes a year from the time a formal application is submitted to county staff until construction can begin. In fact, he pointed out, an 18-month-long timeline would be more likely.

Other staff concerns

These renderings show the parking garage. Image courtesy Genesis Planning & Development

Among other comments in the Dec. 8 letter, representatives of the Landscape Division noted that because Stickney Point Road is designated an arterial/collector road, a buffer that is at least 10 feet in width would be required between the parking garage and Stickney Point Road. Further, a 6-foot-wide buffer would be needed on the Old Stickney Point side of the garage.

(The Florida Department of Transportation defines an arterial road as one that “provides continuous routes which serve through traffic, high-traffic volumes, and long average trips.”)

Yet another comment from the Zoning Division noted that a street yard setback within the Siesta Key Overlay District (SKOD) “may be reduced to 2 [feet] if approved by the County Commission for buildings exceeding 35 [feet in height] as part of the Special Exception approval.” However, the comment continued, “It appears that the ramp up/ramp down does not meet the required [20-foot] street yard setback, so please demonstrate that the building elevations meet the requirements of Article 7, Section 124-102(b)(4)j. of the [UDC].”

Medred of Genesis Planning & Development has explained during the formal Dec. 15 workshop and an informal one on Dec. 2 that the hotel plans call for guests to drive up a ramp from Old Stickney Point Road to reach the second level of the hotel. There, they would turn over their keys to a valet who would park the vehicle in the garage across the street.

Moreover, the Landscape Division noted in regard to the hotel plans, “If any parking areas are outside the building, no parking aisle may contain more than 15 parking spaces in a row without a landscape island, and all rows shall terminate with a landscape island with a minimum width of 10 [feet] and 170 [square feet] in area.”

This is an engineering drawing included in the formal application regarding the proposed parking garage on south Siesta Key. Image courtesy Sarasota County
This is the engineering drawing for the parking garage that was included in the May preliminary application. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The formal application for the hotel, submitted to county staff in mid-November, says, “The hotel would be accommodated by onsite surface parking, in addition to spaces within the parking structure proposed for 1237 Old Stickney Point Road.” Those spaces on the hotel site — which combines the parcels located at 1260 and 1266 Old Stickney Point Road — would be in the lower level of the structure, the formal application adds.

Another comment from the Landscape Division in regard to the parking garage pointed out that the preliminary application appeared to show angled parking outside the garage. If that was the case, all of those rows also would have to “terminate in a curbed landscaped island with each island having a minimum area of 170 [square feet] with a minimum width of 10 [feet] inside the [curb] and include one large tree as described in Article 8, Section 124-122(s) of the UDC. The remaining area shall be surfaced with shrubs, ground cover, grass, or other landscape material (excluding rock or shell),” the comment added.