SARASOTA, Fla. - It's a small victory for folks who are strongly against development on county-owned land near the popular Celery Fields hot spot. In a letter to Sarasota County, the developer for Restaurant Depot says they are terminating the contract for buying the land they were looking to build on across the street from Celery Fields.
"We're very happy with the result today," said David Johnson, a Meadow Walk resident. "But there's a long fight ahead of us and a lot of us are energized to keep moving forward and keep fighting."
The developer was requesting to rezone the 7-acre property so they could build a 60,000 square-foot warehouse for restaurant equipment and a food supply. Alicia Bolden and her husband Jason are the owners of Sofrita Mama's in Sarasota. They say they're a little disappointed at the new developments because they have to currently travel to Tampa to get the foods they need for their restaurant. They tell us life would be easier with a Restaurant Depot in the Sarasota area.
"It's very inconvenient, we have to close for an entire day just to be able to get our product, so that's a day's loss of revenue," said Bolden.
One person who is happy about the news that Restaurant Depot will no longer be building at this site is Meadow Walk resident George Boyd. His home is near the Celery Fields and near where this warehouse would've been built.
"I feel it's very good because those large trucks coming in and out of here certainly have been disturbing not only to the people who live here, but as well as the animals and the birds that are out in the celery fields," said Boyd.
The fight against development near the Celery Fields continues. Thousands of people have signed a petition opposing proposed plans for a recycling facility on land nearby. Those plans still remain on the table. As for David Johnson and many others, they will keep having their voices heard.
"There are a number of significant questions that remain including why is that the county wants to sell these lands," said Johnson. "What is it about this property that made it surplus and why would they take conservation lands and want to sell them to industry."