Neighborhood group files appeal to proposed Walmart store

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SARASOTA- A neighborhood group and a former Sarasota Mayor are asking the City Commission to halt plans for a proposed Walmart on Ringling Boulevard.

The Alta Vista Neighborhood Association and former Mayor Kelly Kirschner will ask City Commissioners in January to look at their appeal and vote in February to stop Walmart from building a new 98 thousand square foot supercenter.

Kirschner says the issue is over the zoning code, which states that the area where Walmart wants to build is for small scale retail only and no department stores.

"A structural use that is 15 thousand square feet or bigger and selling a variety of goods that is separated by department is considered a department store. I think you can ask anyone on the street that Walmart is a discount department store," Kirschner said.

Kirschner is also concerned over issues like noise and traffic. The store, if built, will be open 24 hours a day.

"Doing that 24 hours a day is going to bring in non stop traffic through this neighborhood, and then exiting it constantly," Kirschner said.

Others, however, say the store can't come soon enough. Jerry Millas owns Ringling Pizza and Grill located across the street from the proposed site.

"There is going to be a lot of traffic coming in. They are going to see our beautiful dining room, they are going to want to eat before and after, and maybe remember us when they get home for delivery," Millas said.

Earlier this month, the Sarasota City Planning Commission approved the plans by a 3-2 vote. If the store is built, it will employ around 250 people and should open sometime next fall.