Residents are opposing the designation of more major employment center land near their homes, but the county commission is coming forward with the process.
A controversial change proposed for a 19-acre parcel prompted Sarasota residents to turn out in force, clad in pastel yellow, to urge the Sarasota County Commission to stop the process of changing the land-use designation in its tracks.
But the commission decided to allow the resolution to make it to the next step before coming back for potential final adoption in September.
This land, located at the northeast quadrant of Fruitville Road and Tatum Road, currently has a semi-rural designation. It’s surrounded by some residential communities, including the Legends at Tatum Ridge, as well as some larger businesses, including the Pepsi Bottling Group and Scott Paint Factory Co.
Scott Wagman, a St. Petersburg resident and president of Houghton-Wagman Enterprises, Inc., is the owner of the land. He’s seeking a major employment center designation for the parcel, although he said he doesn’t yet know what he wants to do with it.
Wagman addressed the commission and those who showed up to oppose the efforts, and assured them the land would not be used to put in a “super Wal-Mart or a Home Depot.” He went on to say that the wetland-infused land posed problems to development, and he and his children may own the property for decades to come before anything is built there.
This ambiguity about the goals for the land turned off residents in the area, who said they and the commission would have to assume the worst case scenario — a major employment center that would bring traffic, noise pollution and unsightly development to the area, they said — when deciding whether or not to allow it.
Before coming before the commission, the Sarasota County Planning Commission heard both sides of the argument on May 4, and approved the resolution to go before the county commission, with a recommendation that they approve it for the next step.
12 homeowners and business owners from the area spoke at the meeting opposing the development, but the commission voted 3-2 to allow the resolution to pass onto the next phase — going to the state level for input. Once commissioners have that information, they will vote on whether to adopt the land-use changes at a Sept. 13 public hearing.
Commissioner Nancy Detert voted not to move forward with the process.
“At this point to change this from a semi-rural [designation] … when you can’t even tell us what you’re going to do with the property, is a road block for me,” Detert said.
Most commissioners made it clear that they were only approving the transmittal of the resolution to the state-level for input, and were not yet on board with adopting the resolution completely.