Developer moves ahead with approved plan while neighbors work on two adjacent sites.
A proposed waste-transfer station outside Celery Fields is on its way.
Approved in 2015 by the Sarasota County Commission, the waste-transfer site could have paired with a recycling facility on an adjacent property, but commissioners in 2017 rejected owner Jim Gabbert’s special-exception request for that project after weeks of residents’ protests. The sale of the land for the recycling plant from the county to Gabbert also was scuttled.
Gabbert already owns four acres on the southeast corner of Porter Road and Palmer Boulevard (6150 Palmer Blvd.) for the transfer station — a 30,000-square-foot facility on the property. It will be a place to drop off discarded wood, yard, construction and demolition debris to be taken to other locations for disposal.
“This is not a landfill or dump,” the application stated. “No domestic waste or hazardous materials would be accepted at this facility.”
The site will also include an office building and an area where trucks can be weighed. The proposal does not include a concrete-crushing operation. It would be open to the public from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The facility will operate under the existing Industrial, Light Manufacturing and Warehousing zoning on the property. It won’t require a hearing or review by the County Commission.
“It’s a waste-transfer facility, and it’s going to be built as it’s proposed,’’ Gabbert said. “I think [residents are] going to be happy with it as it’s proposed. There are a lot of misunderstandings and misrepresentations in the literature that was put out for the recycling facility.”
As Gabbert gets started on construction of his facility, area residents and stakeholders are working to come up with uses for the county-owned adjacent parcels at the corner of Apex Road and Palmer Boulevard.
Fresh Start is a group backed by 50 homeowners associations in the area that emerged after the controversy of Gabbert’s proposed recycling facility. They asked the county for time to come up with compatible uses for two parcels, and the deadline was recently extended to this summer.
Proposed uses so far include an eco-tourism hotel, a sports complex or a visitor pavilion. The County Commission has emphasized the importance of the parcels of land being profitable for the county.
The idea is to put restrictions on how the land can be used, then partner with private entities who can work within those restrictions.
Asked if the group is concerned about the construction of a waste-transfer facility near the parcels of land they’re trying to make attractive to the private sector, Fresh Start executive council member Marguerite Malone said she’s mainly concerned with moving forward on the proposals.
“I think everybody who’s connected with wanting to have something nice at the Celery Fields would want everything there to be compatible, but what I’m really concerned with is moving forward with our proposals, and whatever happens outside of that happens.”
The plans for the transfer facility are being reviewed by county staff for compliance. Comments from the different departments are tentatively due by May 16 and may be followed by a full review by the Development Review Committee.
Once Gabbert satisfies the comments, he can begin construction, which he said would take about a year.