SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) – Siesta Key residents packed the Sarasota County commission chambers Wednesday to make their voices heard before a controversial vote on a major development. The public hearing lasted several hours, with more than 55 people signed up to speak.
Despite a majority of residents expressing opposition, commissioners voted 3-2 in favor of the proposal for an eight-story, 170-room hotel. The property nearby the popular village sits on less than one-acre of land. With approval of the changes for both height and density, the hotel will be the first of its kind on Siesta Key.
Some residents are still in disbelief that the proposal is moving forward.
“I felt that the evidence was and discussions were overwhelming and that the commission should have tabled the hotel at this point in time until they can resolve the issue of intensity and density,” said resident Dave Adams. “We were very disheartened with the vote. We didn’t feel that the commissioners heard what the residents of Siesta Key who live here and have to deal with the impact of this property have to contend with,” he continued.
“I think the decision was made before all of the hearing went on and whatever was said was just people voicing concerns,” said Michael Schindele. “The board was going to vote the way they did 3 to 2, game over and moving forward so it was like a rubberstamp,” he said.
Christian Ziegler, who represents that portion of Siesta Key, was one of two dissenting votes. He admitted Wednesday, it was a tough call.
“This is a difficult one and for me, it’s kind of like in baseball where the tie goes to the runner. On this one, it is a tie for me, but I am going to side with the citizens on this in terms of this issue where I have heard the majority of the feedback,” said Commissioner Ziegler during the meeting. *I will be a no on this, but I could very well understand why someone would support this because you see some of the issues I have been laid out and some of the demands we have in our community and how it could be a positive. I literally came into this meeting not knowing which side and I wanted to hear everyone out, but that is kind of where I fall,” he continued.
Ziegler was unavailable for an on-camera interview Thursday.
Residents we heard from were thankful for his support, but hope to see more action moving forward.
“I sent him a note this morning and thanked him for his siding with the citizens of Siesta Key. I would like him to pursue other avenues. They really have to move in that direction,” said Adams.
The timeline of the project is unclear at this point. We are told more pushback is possible in the form of litigation.