Businessman Jim Gabbert proposed the C&D facility near Celery Fields in Sarasota, the report says. If the proposal were approved, the facility would have sat on 10.3 acres of undeveloped county land and would have been combined with a waste transfer facility that has already been approved.
According to the report, Celery Fields is a stormwater management system the county improved in a multimillion dollar project and has since become a popular park, recreation area and bird watching area. Opponents of the facility cited the proximity to this space as an issue.
Neighborhood activists, environmentalists and bird watchers organized a campaign against the proposal, the report says. For eight months, the campaign cited air pollution, wildlife hazards, noise and traffic as potential issues with the facility. A group called Save Our Celery Fields organized a protest at the administration building in Sarasota earlier in the summer.
More than 80 people spoke at the meeting, with around a half-dozen supporting the facility, the report says.
Gabbert’s purchase was contingent on the county approving the rezoning necessary for the facility, according to the report. Since the proposal was denied, Gabbert could potentially still close on the purchase but keep the current zoning permits, which allow only one home to be built on the property.
Gabbert could also appeal the decision by saying the reasoning behind the denial did not meet the court’s standards for “competent, substantial evidence.” The report says Gabbert has not discussed whether to pursue an appeal.