Benderson Development affiliate wins county approval of earthmoving permit to clear site
By Rachel Brown Hackney
On July 15, an engineering company filed a new permit application with Sarasota County on behalf of an affiliate of Benderson Development Co., in conjunction with plans to clear the Siesta Promenade site.
On July 11, county staff approved Siesta 41 Associates LLP’s application for a minor earthmoving permit, county Media Relations Specialist Brianne Grant told SNL.
The final point of concern for that permit focused on protecting the trees on the approximately 24 acres in the northwest quadrant of the intersection of U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road. (The official address of the Siesta Promenade site is 6450 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota, Benderson Development documents show.)
On July 10, Darren Semones, representing the county’s tree protection staff, signed off on the earthmoving permit. Nonetheless, he wrote that before Siesta 41 Associates could allow a contractor to start removing septic tanks, asphalt roads and concrete pads from the former Pine Shores Trailer Park property, the company had to apply for a tree permit. That application had to be accompanied by a site plan for staff review, he pointed out.
Additionally, he wrote, the company would have to provide a full count of the trees that would be removed.
In accord with that direction, on July 15, WRA Engineering, with an office on Cooper Creek Boulevard in University Park, formally filed for a tree permit, at a cost of $3,515.
County spokeswoman Grant reported on July 18 that Planning and Development Services Department staff had indicated to her that it would take some time for the new application to be processed.
In response to another request, the Public Records staff provided a copy of the application. (That document, by the way, incorrectly notes that the property is in the southwest corner of South Tamiami Trail and Stickney Point Road.)
The trees to be removed are as follows, the application says: four maples, 31 oaks, 88 palms, 51 pines and 21 trees of unknown species.
The trees to be protected, it continues, are two Grand Pines and “various others shown on plan that were identified by County Staff.”
Further, on July 16, county Archaeologist Steven Koski had put a note in the tree permit record, emphasizing that no tree could be removed “within 100 feet of the historic Pine Shores chimney other than those needed to be removed to facilitate chimney removal for relocation.”
Koski has been working to protect that chimney, which was left standing after a fire destroyed the log structure that served as the clubhouse for the Pine Shores Trailer Park. A note Koski added to the earthmoving permit record made it clear that the chimney would be relocated to the county’s Urfer Family Park, which stands at 4012 Honore Ave. in Sarasota.
The tree permit application includes a document listing the six criteria for county staff to consider in granting a tree permit. No. 4 says, “The trees unreasonably prevent development of a lot or the physical use thereof …”
The WRA Engineering application points out that the impacted area encompasses 984,456 square feet. (A web-based calculator says that that square footage is equal to 22.6 acres.)
Benderson and Siesta 41 Associates plan 414 condominiums/apartments, a 130-room hotel, 133,000 square feet of commercial space and 7,000 square feet of office space on the approximately 24 acres. On Dec. 12, 2018, the firms won County Commission approval to undertake the development.
Todd Mathes, director of development for Benderson and manager of the Siesta Promenade project, signed the tree permit application on July 15.
In response to a related SNL question, spokeswoman Grant said on July 18 that Paula Wiggins, manager of the county’s Transportation Planning Division, had affirmed that the contractor hired for the work on the Siesta Promenade site would be able to use only one street in the adjacent Pine Shores Estates neighborhood for ingress or egress to the property at U.S. 41 and Stickney Point Road. That street is Crestwood Avenue, a portion of which the County Commission agreed to vacate to facilitate Benderson’s Siesta Promenade design.
Because of the planned realignment of Crestwood Avenue on part of the Siesta Promenade perimeter, Grant added, county staff agreed to its use by the contractor.
Although the prohibition involving the other neighborhood roads is not included in writing on the earthmoving permit, Grant said Wiggins told her, “That was verbally agreed upon.” Therefore, Wiggins said, staff will work to ensure the contractor abides by that prohibition.