On December 9, 2004, Sprawl-Busters reported that a proposed Wal-Mart supercenter had been rejected in Sarasota, Florida. We noted that County Commissioners used their discretionary police powers to declare a proposed superstore on Interstate 75 “too intense” for the area’s roads to handle. “I think it’s too intense for this area,” Commissioner Paul Mercier told the Herald-Tribune newspaper. Wal-Mart needed county approval to rezone 30 acres to build a 215,000 s.f. building. Anti-Wal-Mart activists sent the following update on Wal-Mart’s unending quest to get a superstore into Sarasota: “In 2004, Wal-Mart was denied a petition to build a supercenter (on
over 30-acres) in a 3-2 vote by the Sarasota County Board of Commissioners. They refiled in 2005 but pulled their bid because the original plans had not been altered
satisfactorily. Wal-Mart has again cast their petition and are asking for a Special Exception in a bid to circumvent the current Comprehensive Plan. They wish to change the current building code from single businesses having 60,000 square feet or less. If passed, they will attempt to pass a building/site plan to construct a 219,400 square foot store. There is growing opposition within the local neighborhoods and amongst local business owners. The current roadway infrastructure is not capable at this time of handling the “new” traffic associated with a store of this size. Even with the improvements that Wal-Mart promises, there would still be road construction for the next several years. Not only would this jeopardize public safety, but it would have a major adverse financial effect on the established businesses (during the road construction phase)in the immediate area. This location is unsuitable for a Wal-Mart Supercenter. Aerial photographs show the area as a well-planned and successful working area of the county. A massive store like the one planned would completely disrupt the balance of mixed land use that has been painstakingly attained by the planners to date. The Sarasota Planning Commission meeting is planned for September 7th, 2006.
This battle has been going on for ‘only’ a couple of years. In some communities, Wal-Mart has been rejected — only to return 10 years later to try again. As in their earlier plan, this size store needs a special exception — something the county is under no obligation to approve. This is a discretionary action, not mandatatory. The more “special exceptions” the county grants, the more the exceptions become the rule. For local contacts in Sarasota, contact [email protected]