By Rachel Brown Hackney
Ronald and Sania Allen of Osprey have accepted Sarasota County’s offer of $1.4 million for their parcel at 162 Beach Road.
However, neither Wendy B. Cooper, trustee of the Burton M. Cooper Credit Shelter Trust No. 1, nor the Cooper family’s attorney has responded to the county’s offer of $1,450,000 for the Cooper property at 168 Beach Road, county Media Relations Officer Jason Bartolone told SNL in an Oct. 13 email.
Staff was “in the process of finalizing a contract” with the Allens, Bartolone noted.
In their first regular meeting after Hurricane Irma swept through Florida, the commissioners discussed counter proposals the Allens and the Cooper family made to the county’s offers for their property earlier this year.
The commission has remained steadfast in refusing to grant a Coastal Setback Variance for construction on either parcel, because the residences would be fully seaward of the Gulf Beach Setback Line, the county’s line of protection from storm damage.
After more than an hour of discussion on Sept. 13, including exchanges with attorney William Merrill III of the Icard Merrill firm in Sarasota — who represents the Allens — the board members voted 4-1 to stick with the county’s offer of a total of $2,850,000 for the parcels.
Commissioner Michael Moran cast the “No” vote.
The Allens’ counter proposal was for $1.7 million, while the Coopers wanted $1.8 million for their property. Moran’s motion to split the difference between the $2,850,000 and the $3.5 million died for lack of a second.
Merrill had talked of the potential of filing suit against the county over an illegal “taking” of the Allens’ land because of the board’s refusal to approve several requests for variances for construction. Commissioner Charles Hines challenged Merrill on that issue on Sept. 13.
The commission never had been asked about granting a variance for a parking lot on the land, for example, Hines said, while Commissioner Nancy Detert talked of the potential for a beach cabana on the property, for another example.
If the property owners took the county to court, Hines indicated he felt confident that the county would prevail.
Neither the Allens nor the Coopers nor the Coopers’ attorney was present for the Sept. 13 discussion.