SARASOTA - City commissioners finally heard comments from the public Tuesday night over a proposed Walmart Supercenter at the site of a former Publix near downtown Sarasota, and voted the issue down, 3-2.
The store was planned for the intersection of Ringling Boulevard and Lime Avenue.
At last week’s meeting, we heard from Walmart officials and those who appealed the decision by the city's planning board to approve the store.
Those who didn't want the 98,000 square foot superstore said the zoning code for the area does not permit a department store, and cited concerns over noise and traffic.
Representatives from Walmart stressed the shopping venue is not a department store, and should get the okay from commissioners -- since the planning board already voted in favor of it.
56 people spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting, with the vast majority of them opposing the store.
In the end, Vice-Mayor Willie Shaw, and commissioners Shannon Snyder and Terry Turner voted to turn down the project, while Mayor Suzanne Atwell and commissioner Paul Caragiulo voted for it.
After the meeting, official from Walmart issued the following statement: "In spite of tonight's decision, we feel strongly about our decision to locate a Walmart in the Ringling Shopping Center to bring residents new jobs, an affordable shopping option, and revitalize a City gem that currently sits as a neighborhood eye sore. We will continue to pursue our efforts to better serve our customers in Sarasota."