A group called Citizens for Reasonable North Trail Development didn’t get an opportunity to make its case for why it believes a Goodwill Superstore isn’t appropriate for the surrounding neighborhood.
At a special meeting Monday at City Hall, the Sarasota City Commission unanimously declined to hear an appeal of the store, upholding its Planning Board’s Nov. 9 decision to approve the store.
The move meant Sapphire Shores residents opposed to the store did not have the opportunity to make their voices heard in a public hearing setting.
Approximately 40 people congregated outside Commission Chambers after the meeting to complain.
“It was fixed,” said Sapphire Shores resident Anne Fordham. “This is a superstore that belongs in an industrial zone, not a neighborhood.”
The decision essentially allows the project, slated for two vacant parcels that sit at the corner of U.S. 41 and Myrtle Street, to move forward.
The planning board approved the 29,699-square-foot retail store by a 3-2 vote, despite concerns from residents who think the store doesn’t fit the character of the neighborhood they want revitalized.
Sapphire Shores resident Robert Casella, along with residents Mel Harner and Scott Eller, jointly appealed the decision.
Casella, who said he has a petition from 50 residents opposed to the project, expects his organization to dispute the decision in January by filing an appeal with Sarasota County Circuit Court.
“We were really disappointed,” Casella said Tuesday. “We didn’t expect to prevail, but we also didn’t expect to be disrespected by the commission, who couldn’t even give us the courtesy to review our appeal with them.”
The Goodwill store will replace an existing, aging Goodwill that sits down the street at 3333 N. Tamiami Trail.
The new store would have approximately 80 employees, compared to the 60 employees the current location has.
The store will sit approximately 12 blocks away from the site of a new Walmart grocery store that has already received a building permit.
The commission had agreed to fast-track the appeal hearing after Goodwill officials explained because of lease concerns, they needed to know by the end of the year if the project could be sidetracked.