Siesta Key Leaders Explore Incorporation

Todays News

Image courtesy Visit Sarasota County

Could Siesta City become the region’s next city?

An effort is underway to study the possibility of incorporating most of the island as a municipality. The organization Save Siesta Key has already started a series of meetings on the topic. But leaders of the group stress even they are not yet certain yet if building a city hall will be the most important next step on the island.

“I want to be really clear. We don’t know if incorporation is right,” said Tracy Jackson, a board member for Save Siesta Key. “But it’s time to do a feasibility study.”

That said, there’s a distinct feeling among many on the island that the status quo hasn’t provided enough of a voice for the community regarding its own future. Most of Siesta Key lays in unincorporated Sarasota County, leaving planning decisions and regulations to the County Commission. Jackson points to recent actions with hotel development on the island, approval of a project at Stickney Point Road and Tamiami Trail, and variances approves within the Siesta Key Overlay District.

Incidentally, that district was born out of the last community conversation about incorporation. Codified in 2001, the district followed discussions in the late 1990s about incorporation and was viewed as a way to dictate specific development plans for Siesta different from other unincorporated areas.

But was that enough? There’s at least skepticism whether the district still provides enough protection.

If the community does want to incorporate, there’s a process that starts with a feasibility study, includes a community vote and finally requires action by the Florida Legislature. If a vote should occur, Jackson said the organization would like that to happen in March next year, a timetable of less than a year. Putting a measure on a ballot can be done through the Supervisor of Elections.

A charter must also be finalized by that time.

While the group isn’t committing to the route of becoming a city, Jackson said it’s important to explore options.

“What is the solution to not being heard?” she said. “We have to pull together as a community and make sure we are heard. And at some level, we believe we are the better stewards of our community.”

For the moment, the effort will only explore incorporating all of the land on Siesta Key, excluding a neighborhood on the north end of the island that’s part of the City of Sarasota. Jackson said in the future, there may be discussion of that area switching city jurisdiction but that could complicate the fledging efforts underway today.

Save Siesta Key held an initial meeting on April 18, and will hold a second one on municipal incorporation on May 19 at 7pm. The meeting will be held at Siesta Chapel and masks are required.

Image courtesy Visit Sarasota County

https://www.savesiestakey.org/

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