Alta Vista residents voted 26-1 at a Nov. 29 Alta Vista Neighborhood Association meeting to support an appeal of a Walmart Supercenter on Ringling Boulevard that the Sarasota Planning Board approved earlier this month.
“We will give $400 out of our treasury toward the appeal cost,” said Alta Vista Neighborhood Association President Candy Spaulding. It costs about $1,600 to file the appeal.
A group of residents, led by former Mayor Kelly Kirschner, submitted an appeal of the planning board’s Nov. 25 approval of the supercenter’s site plan. Opponents of the Walmart say they don’t feel that a large retail store fits in the residential neighborhood close to downtown. Opponents also argue the project is not allowed under the zoning code for the area.
Attendance at the Alta Vista meeting last Thursday was one of the largest since the controversial days of a proposed condominium development on School Avenue in 2006, said resident Maxine McLawhorn.
A group of about a dozen residents opposed to the supercenter also spoke at Monday’s City Commission meeting.
“We think it is important to hold a hearing and to allow the concerns of the neighborhood to be heard,” McLawhorn told commissioners.
“I believe the Walmart project is not a viable project for that space,” said Laura Bowers, who lives on Wood Street, near the proposed store.
Bowers said she fears the store would bring problems to nearby Payne Park.
“I’ve lived in the area since I was 10 years old, and I’ve seen so many positive changes,” said Michael Jones. “I’ve really enjoyed Payne Park. I think that location is a poor location for a Walmart.”
Architect Jerry Sparkman, who lives in Alta Vista, said the issue is compatibility.
“If you look at your zoning code, you will see this is not permitted,” he said to commissioners.
According to the email Kirschner sent to city attorney Bob Fournier Nov. 25, a group made up mostly of neighborhood leaders filed the appeal. In addition to Kirschner, who is an Alta Vista resident, the following individuals are appealing the planning board’s decision: Alta Vista residents Juanita Rawlinson and Pat Kolodgy, neighborhood association president Candy Spaulding, developer Ron Burks, architect Jerry Sparkman and Marian Maxson.
During their Jan. 7 regular meeting, city commissioners will discuss whether to hold an appeal hearing.