Brannock & Humphries Helps Fend Off Challenge To Sarasota Land Use Decision

Assisting longtime client Benderson Development Company and its land development lawyer Robert Lincoln, Brannock & Humphries helped convince a Sarasota County circuit judge to deny a petition for writ of certiorari filed by a resident who was dissatisfied with the county’s decision to approve a 23-acre mixed-used development along a busy intersection of U.S. Highway 41 in Sarasota.

Benderson acquired the property in 2005 and began to pursue rezoning approvals to develop the land.  All three other corners of the intersection where the property is located were previously developed for commercial uses.  Benderson proposed to build 479 residential units, including both multi-family units and hotel units, along with retail and office space.  As part of the development process, Benderson worked closely with the county’s planning board, held numerous neighborhood workshops to solicit public input, procured multiple studies to assess the impact of the development on the surrounding neighborhoods, and worked with the county to develop a Critical Area Plan (known as a “CAP”).  A CAP is an important land use tool allowing the county to determine exactly what sorts of projects should be permitted on important tracts subject to development.

Ultimately, the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners adopted a CAP and approved the proposed development.  A local resident who lived nearby and who objected to the proposal then filed a certiorari petition in the Sarasota circuit court, seeking appellate review of the county’s decision.  The resident’s petition claimed that the Board did not conduct a fair hearing, misused the CAP process, and failed to consider the impact of the development, including the increase in traffic it would supposedly cause and its proximity to neighboring residences.  After receiving written briefing developed through a team approach among Benderson, Benderson’s land use attorney Mr. Lincoln, and Brannock & Humphries, the circuit court held an extensive in-person hearing on the issues raised.

Today, the court issued an order methodically rejecting the resident’s challenge.  As the court explained, the county’s decision was supported by ample evidence and was reached after a full and fair process in which the entire community was given many opportunities to provide input.  The decision now brings Benderson’s new project a significant step closer to reality.