On Thursday, June 1 at 5:00PM, the Sarasota County Planning Commission will hold a Public Hearing to consider a proposal (Petition 17-01) to rezone Celery Fields lands and grant a special exception to the applicant which would allow a “construction and demolition” (“C & D”) debris processing facility to be constructed there.
What is Being Proposed?
The developer, James Gabbert, through his company, TST Ventures, LLC, is proposing a ~16-acre plant which will accept:
- Construction & Demolition Debris (including large chunks of concrete, asphalt, wood, drywall, roofing materials, etc.)
- Yard Waste (including trees, bushes, and other organic material which may have been treated with pesticides, insecticides, and other harmful chemicals)
The plan involves operating concrete crushers, wood chippers, and other similar machinery to reduce the size of the materials.
The plan calls for dozens of trucks to enter and exit the property each day, beginning at 7am, Monday through Saturday.
What Property Will Be Used?
There are a total of 3 parcels which, if approved, will be combined together in order to construct this facility.
Quick details on the parcels:
- The western-most parcel of land (~4.5 acres), at the southeast corner of Porter Road & Palmer Boulevard, is owned by TST Ventures, LLC and was approved in 2015 for a “waste transfer station.”
- The southern parcel of land (~1.8 acres), which stretches from Porter Road to Apex Road, is also owned by TST Ventures, LLC.
- The eastern-most parcel of land (~10.3 acres), at the southwest corner of Apex Road & Palmer Boulevard, is owned by Sarasota County and appears on County maps as part of the Celery Fields park (see the Field Guide to Conservation Lands as an example). This property, one of the 4 parcels known as “the quads,” was purchased as part of the County’s land acquisition process during the early stages of constructing the Celery Fields Regional Stormwater Facility.
Why Is this a Bad Idea?
Recycling is a fantastic idea. The problem isn’t recycling construction and demolition debris or yard waste. The problem is doing so on conservation lands.
We’ve written in the past about why the County’s process for selling so-called “surplus lands” needs to be revisited, and this project is a perfect example of the sort of terrible idea that could be avoided if that process were as transparent as it could be.
Sarasota County has spent at least $24 Million in the construction of the Celery Fields Regional Stormwater Facility. They’ve spent an unknown additional sum construction the Celery Fields park.
Why jeopardize that investment by allowing noise pollution, air pollution, and water pollution of the sort produced by operating concrete crushers, wood chippers, and other machinery involved in the processing of construction and demolition debris and yard waste on this land?
The larger portion of the land involved in this proposal is public land, owned by the people of Sarasota County. There are far better uses for this land than selling it to a developer for a project of this sort.
Furthermore, there are much better locations in Sarasota County for facilities like this. In fact, Mr. Gabbert previously built a similar facility, which he subsequently sold, and which is still in operation today.
Here are some recent photos from that facility:
As you can clearly see, this type of activity is not compatible with the green spaces along Palmer Boulevard, the stormwater facility, nor the natural habitat for birds and other wildlife at the Celery Fields.
How Did We Get Here?
The Citizens for Sarasota County have prepared a complete timeline that lays out the history of this idea.
What Can You Do?
Let your voice be heard!
Write to the members of the Sarasota County Planning Commission :
- Laura Benson Laura.Benson@sarasotaadvisory.net
- Jack Bispham Jack.Bispham@sarasotaadvisory.net
- Kevin Cooper Kevin.Cooper@sarasotaadvisory.net
- Ron Cutsinger Ron.Cutsinger@sarasotaadvisory.net
- Robert Morris Robert.Morris@sarasotaadvisory.net
- Joseph Neunder Joseph.Neunder@sarasotaadvisory.net
- Colin Pember Colin.Pember@sarasotaadvisory.net
- Andrew T. Stultz Andrew.Stultz@sarasotaadvisory.net
Additionally, you can email the Sarasota County Staff contact person assigned to the Planning Commission:
Paula Clintsman – firstname.lastname@example.org
What Should You Say?
Update: 5/22/2017: Here’s a much more detailed letter if you’d prefer. It does an excellent job of covering the issues. Thank you to a resident of The Hammocks for putting this together!
Your note can simply voice your opposition to this plan. Here’s a sample email you can use if you are a resident of Sarasota County:
Dear Members of the Sarasota County Planning Commission:
Thank you for your service to the Citizens of Sarasota County. I’m writing to let you know that as a resident of Sarasota County, I am opposed to Petition 17-01. The construction of this type of facility at this location is not compatible with its surroundings. Please vote to deny this Petition.
What Else Can You Do?
Here are a few additional practical steps you can take:
- “Like” the Save The Celery Fields Facebook Page
- Share photos, videos, and other posts you find there
- Sign up for email alerts
- Sign up to volunteer
Do you have questions? Feel free to ask them by leaving a comment below!