High Density Hotel Proposal on Siesta Key Passes

SIESTA KEY, Fla. (WFLA) – Sarasota County Commissioners have voted to approve plans for a high-density hotel on Siesta Key.

Currently, Siesta Key hotels are limited to a height of 35 feet. However, the newly approved proposal has hotels as high as 80 feet.

The resolution was adopted 3-2. Nancy Detert and Christian Ziegler voted against the plans.

“We’re in this tug-of-war between progress and going out there and fundamentally reshaping the community to manage the demand versus protecting what we have now and the charm that we have and that. is the struggle when you really break it down, “said Commissioner Christian Ziegler.

More than 55 people have registered to speak, including residents, business owners and other stakeholders.

“I think having something high end is good and being able to go to a place where it can be very short term, one night or two nights, without getting involved in an Airbnb. thinks that’s a great idea, ”said Kimberlie Macdonald who works on Siesta Key.

“Now the island will be inundated with very high hotels. We’ve had these height ordinances in place for a while for a reason, ”said Steve Cavanaugh, president of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce. “We don’t want to turn it into Clearwater Beach. I love Clearwater, but it’s not the same as Siesta Key. Siesta Key is a sleepy little island. We have a very insular atmosphere. This will change, “he continued.

Four hotels are proposed for the island, two of which are said to have buildings above current height and density restrictions. Many residents say they are not opposed to the new hotels on the island, but want the projects to comply with current zoning laws.

The ordinance that was approved Wednesday removes hotel density restrictions not only on Siesta Key, but across Sarasota County. Higher hotels and hundreds of rooms are not what some people want. There is a constant movement of people on Siesta Key working to keep the island from looking like other touristy parts of the Gulf Coast.

Residents opposed to hotels are deeply concerned about the traffic on the already congested island and the response times of emergency services.

“I know people who live in Siesta Key who have their own defibrillator in their house and they have been trained in its use because they don’t think the ambulance will get to them on time,” said Patricia Petruff, who represents the Siesta Key Coalition. .

“We have a choice right now, how we want it to go. Do you want to look like every other cookie cutter high density hotel in Florida? Or on the Atlantic coast? I do not. I don’t think most people here want that, ”said Catherine Luckner, board member of the Siesta Key Coalition.

Business owner Clayton Thompson is backing the plans, however, and tells 8 On Your Side that he thinks Siesta Key needs an upscale hotel to face the competition in downtown Sarasota. .

“It’s time for Siesta Key to flourish a bit. I feel like there is a little mishmash of buildings that need to be upgraded, ”said Thompson.

Comments are closed.