Lawsuit against Sarasota County following approval of high-density hotel on Siesta Key

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SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) – Sarasota County could go to court over the recent approval of an unprecedented approval for an 8-story hotel on Siesta Key. It was adopted at the end of October despite major opposition from residents who spoke during the hours of public commentary.

“We are not represented on Siesta Key. They just take money from the tourists who come into Siesta Key and then they ignore the will of the people and that’s not fair, ”said Barbara Lancer, business owner and resident.

Neighborhood attorney and Siesta Key resident Lourdes Ramirez filed a lawsuit last Wednesday alleging Sarasota County violated its own comprehensive plan when commissioners voted to approve the high-density hotel a month earlier.

“It is unfortunate that citizens have to go and force the county to follow its own rules. It’s a shame, ”Ramirez said. “We were really hoping the county would listen to us and at least listen to all of our legal arguments. We were passionate about it, but we also had real legal reasons for them not to approve it and the county commissioners decided to ignore it, ”she continued.

The county’s long-term growth plan includes policies that include barrier island protections. Until the October vote, the maximum density on the barrier islands was 26 units per acre. The approved 170-room hotel sits on 96 acres of land on Celle Miramar just outside of Siesta Key Village.

“What if everyone decides to do this?” It will only be hotels. Our way of life that we love on our barrier island will be gone forever and we cannot get it back, ”said Lancer.

Ramirez says his legal actions are not limited to whether or not there are hotels on the island.

“It’s the fact that the county doesn’t follow its own rules and I think that’s important not only to Siesta Key, but throughout Sarasota County. If the county commissioners feel they don’t have to follow any rules, then we’re going to have a problem with any development. The county is just going to be able to do what it wants instead of what it is supposed to do, ”Ramirez said.

A county official told 8 On Your Side Tuesday that “Sarasota County does not comment on pending or pending litigation.”

The county has 30 days to respond to the complaint.

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