//Sarasota Co has to pay up….
Sarasota Co has to pay up…., Our Town Sarasota News Events

Sarasota Co has to pay up….


Sarasota County has to pay up for overstepping its authority.

By Lourdes Ramirez

Lourdes Ramirez, after winning a lawsuit against Sarasota County for approving a 170-room hotel in Siesta Key Village in 2021, has reached a settlement with the county. The settlement is for reimbursement of $170,000 in attorney fees and expenses involved in the Circuit Court case. The reimbursement is set to be approved by the Sarasota County Commission at the March 19th Commission meeting.

Lourdes Ramirez filed a lawsuit against Sarasota County in November 2021, alleging that the county violated the County’s Comprehensive Plan. In her two legal challenges, Lourdes alleged the county violated the Plan by approving an ordinance that removed density limits for hotels and by authorizing a 170-room hotel on a parcel of land less than one acre in size on Calle Miramar on Siesta Key. In 2023, state administrative and circuit court judges agreed and found that Sarasota County had violated the Comprehensive Plan’s limits on hotel density on Barrier Islands. The costs for the state administrative legal challenge were not reimbursable. However, as provided by state law, the circuit court judge awarded attorney fees to Ms. Ramirez on December 1st as the prevailing party in the lawsuit.

Following the circuit court decision, Lourdes’ attorney Richard Grosso negotiated with Sarasota County officials to determine an amount acceptable to both parties. The total legal costs for both the administrative and circuit court legal challenges amounted to more than $300,000, with about a third of that cost associated with the state administrative challenge. After weeks of review, Lourdes and Sarasota County agreed to a settlement of $170,000 as a reasonable reimbursement for her attorneys’ fees and costs expended to successfully challenge the Calle Miramar hotel development approval.

Lourdes is grateful to the community for all of their support and is glad that the lawsuit is finally over.