SARASOTA - A new Walmart grocery store is on its way in Sarasota. Sarasota County commissioners voted 4 to 1 Wednesday to rezone the property where the new store would be built, at the corner of Bee Ridge Road and Beneva Road.
That spot that is currently home to the River's Edge Community Church. This issue at hand Wednesday was whether or not county commissioners would decide to re-zone that property for commercial use, thus paving the way for the Walmart to be built.
Don Neu, the agent representing the church, laid out a presentation to commissioners. He says the project will bring about 100 jobs to the area, and that the lower price point of goods at Walmart will help area residents, many of whom he says are blue collar workers.
People who live in the area though say they do not want the store to be built, fearing that it will bring even more traffic to what's already among the county's busiest intersections. They also say that drivers will start to cut through area neighborhoods in order to avoid that busy intersection.
"We have an obligation, as citizens, to speak up, and we’ve done that. And it was as though we weren’t here. I don’t think they heard anything about traffic or congestion or safety or the quality of life that we came here for. So it’s very disappointing,” said Sharon Whalen.
“I think it’s a good decision. I think they looked at the technical aspects of the project. There are emotional issues that go along with it, but when you analyze it, it’s the correct use for the area, and I believe the commissioners did the right thing," said Neu.
This new store is not going to be a Walmart Supercenter, however. It will be a Walmart Neighborhood Market, similar to the one in North Sarasota that was recently built, and smaller than the typical Walmart store.