Monday, January 30, 2017

Residents turn out in droves opposing Gabbert


ABCNews piece about the Jan. 30 Gabbert Recyling/Celery Fields workshop:

Hundreds oppose recycling center to be built on 16 acres at Celery Fields

See also: 

Rezoning Petition for a warehouse next to the proposed Gabbert facility - Planning Commission hearing Thursday, Feb. 2.

Images and comments from attendees after the Gabbert Recycling Center workshop of Jan. 30, 2017 are below. A full transcript of the meeting is being made and will be made available soon:
Bo Medved handling questions

A resident who was at the hearing:

I'm back from the Workshop, which was SRO, and they brought in extra folding chairs. Leaflets with Commissioners' contact information were handed out. A realtor at the meeting made a good point: The county is selling the land, which suggests a conflict of interest. If the zoning change doesn't go through, they don't make a sale. And the developer, James Gabbert, is on the Charter Review Board. He already owns the adjacent four acres, which is a transfer station. Many of the comments were, of course, about all the residential developments impacted by this proposed center.

The Celery Fields as a world class birding site (and home for endangered and protected species) was stressed as well, and Sarasota Audubon had a representative and a couple of members there. It is not really recycling. They are taking in materials used in construction as well as yard waste and reselling it, so it was suggested that "Construction Waste Transfer Center" would be a better name. However, the materials will also be processed, and the resulting piles could be 35 feet or more high, much higher than the 8 foot wall and 2 foot berm. 

Contamination concerns were brought up, especially by general contractors who attended. Of course traffic issues were stressed and the impact on property values. Gabbert was bombarded with questions, and admitted to living on Siesta Key. Many questions were not adequately answered or were dodged. All those attending were urged to contact their representatives. We received a flyer with the commissioners' emails and the County Commission's phone number. Everyone was urged to write letters, call and email -- and to do all three if possible. This land use is incompatible with the surrounding area and the current zoning. 

If Gabbert succeeds in getting the rezoning, he will also have to apply for a special exception. What he is proposing to build belongs in the category of "heavy industrial." This facility is definitely not compatible with its surroundings. Vehicles from pickups to large trucks will be in and out of the facility. Even though our neighborhoods are further west, we are sure to be impacted by truck traffic and noise. Every community with a through street will likely have trucks barreling through their neighborhoods, even dropping debris on the road.

PLEASE write your Commissioner, or all five if you can, and call them as well. Jam up the phone line (941-861-5344). Get talking points together and give them a hard time.

Another resident:

OUR: Open Use Rural is the right zoning for Gabbert Parcel

One irony: As Bo Medved said, the Celery Fields originally was a stormwater project. The "mountain" and the discovery of it as a major natural asset for all sorts of birds, including several endangered species, came more or less an an unplanned accident. In other words, the single best mainland asset in Sarasota - an international tourist destination for birders - was not planned by anyone. It happened. Now, this is totally being ignored. Mr. Gabbert wants to change the existing zoning of a parcel still owned by the County -- i.e., us -- from Open Use Rural (OUR) to ILW - Industrial, Light Manufacturing, and Warehouse. 

The irony is, given the now-recognized value of the Celery Fields as a natural, environmental, communal and economic asset, Gabbert and Medved are asking to change the land from the only zoning designation that it should have - OUR: Open Use Rural

The OUR District is intended to retain the open character of the land. This district is further intended for agricultural purposes and uses, and to preserve lands with agricultural development potential. Agriculturally-oriented residential development is encouraged, and all commercial and industrial development is prohibited.

What could be more appropriate for land near the CF? Leave it OUR! As in, OUR land.

Apex & Palmer lower left

Gabbert's Waste Facility Plan Meets Neighborhood Opposition

These excerpts are taken from a professional transcript of the Second Neighborhood Workshop held Jan. 30, 2017 at Church of Hope. Over 200 residents listened and responded in no uncertain terms to James Gabbert's plan for an Industrial Waste Construction Facility to go on 12 acres of public land next to the Celery Fields. Bo Medred, Gabbert's agent, and Kirk Crane, County Planner, also spoke.
The full transcript is here.

Overflow Crowd at Church of Hope Neighborhood Workshop 

Italicized titles are themes. Page numbers are to the full transcript. Colored text is comment, not part of transcript.

MEC is "historic"


Bo Medred, left, agent for Gabbert
BO MEDRED: I wanted to show you that this major employment center, it's actually been designated this since 1983 because this was a historic industrial area for the county and they recognized that, and so they processed numerous rezone applications in that area to recognize the existing industrial, and as part of the application, the sector plan had it originally designated, the corner and this area, for commercial retail under that -- this previous plan that was adopted back in '83 and amended in the '90s, for commercial retail and for some office.

How Many Trucks a Day?

BO MEDRED: Jim, just talk about how many trucks of patrons might come in on a given day and then how many of your trucks might leave on a given day.

JIM GABBERT: Okay. The facility is designed to accept stuff anywhere from pickup trucks to dump trucks, and we consolidate that material and haul it out in our company trucks. The outgoing trucks might be anywhere from 6 to 10 a day, and the inbound trucks could -- inbound customer loads could be 25 to 80 loads a day of inbound.

FEMALE AUDIENCE: You said 100 at the last meeting.
FEMALE AUDIENCE: Yeah, 75 to 100 at the last meeting.
FEMALE AUDIENCE: Yep. You're changing your story. Nice try.

At the Waste Transfer hearing, Gabbert testified to the Board of County Commissioners that the average number of trucks per day would be 67.

MEC dates to early 80’s - The area has radically changed.

MALE AUDIENCE: Okay. I just moved out to the area. I just moved out to the area about 6 or 7 months ago. I live in Laurel Lakes, which is Palmer and Iona, and I don't come here with any tremendous angst, but here's just a question I have.

This zoning designation, the major employment center, that was -- that evolved in 1983. Now, I wasn't here in 1983, but I imagine the inordinate amount of residential growth that has taken place out here wasn't even in the planning when they thought about that kind of zoning.

And so there's a concern for me that after they've turned, you know, waste areas into parks and such, all of a sudden, you know, maybe Pandora's box is opened up here because you pointed out, Jim, that there is the surplus lands across the street.

My question would be for the county. Would this then, the decision to rezone for you, would this create a precedent going forward in some of these other surplus lands, whereas, you know, exceptions can be done and, you know, these kinds of surprises pop on what is really becoming a very hot area from a residential standpoint. (Applause.)

BO MEDRED: Okay. The area east of The Celery Fields on the south side of Palmer Boulevard, Palmer Glen, Pine Tree, those developments --


BO MEDRED: Meadow Walk. I actually rezoned all 3 of those for clients back in the -- it would have been the '90s and 2000s, and at that point it was designated for residential.

And prior to that being designated for residential, this area has -- was designated for major employment center and zoned as ILW zoning at that point*. The county recognized that and continued to place an MEC or an industrial designation on this property.

And so it's the historical use, when the county put it out to bid, they put it out as -- for sale a industrial lands. And so I understand that it's further out there, but the industrial area has historically been there. It has been -- you know, The Celery Fields were working an agricultural operations prior to them being purchased by the county, too.

*Medred clearly misspoke. The “future” land use (actually from the wayback machine of 1981) is Major Employment Center (MEC), which does not entail industry -- it can be offices, hi-tech manufacturing, even residential. And it is NOT zoned ILW. The current zoning is OUR - open use rural, which includes a variety of uses, not simply agricultural.

Not Recycling but Waste Processing

FEMALE AUDIENCE: Hi. Okay. So I want to just clarify terms and ask a question or two. So the term we've been using "recycling center" but that sort of paints a picture of, you know, people coming in with their bottles and things like that, and that's not what this is.


FEMALE AUDIENCE: This is really more. It's a construction waste transfer center; yes?


FEMALE AUDIENCE: So perhaps we should maybe address it as such as opposed to addressing it as something that might give us a little more of an environmentally friendly kind of situation. Wait. It leads to my question. It leads to my question. (Applause.)

Toxic materials, negative impact on property values

FEMALE AUDIENCE: Sorry. I listened to you all, and I'm just asking you all to listen to me. So it leads to my question, which is, about concentration as well of materials. For example, when you talk about something like lawn waste, tree limbs and so forth. Come on, we know this. It's Florida. It's all treated. It's got weed killers. It's got Monsanto, Round-up ready. It's got a lot of stuff that can be considered toxic material in high concentration. When you liken it to, for example, the concrete to a sidewalk, that's one intact thing. When you start crushing and releasing dust and releasing certain amounts of particulate, it's going to go into the water, it's going to go into the retention pond, and it's not always good. (Applause.)

One very last thing, I'm going to wrap it all up, okay? My big finish here is tax base, okay? So what happens when some of us decide we don't want to live among the perhaps scavenger birds we will attract, the amount of dust or noise, trucks, what have you, traffic, what have you. And then people start selling. It doesn't attract people to buy to an area that is an area that we know is really being swathed. I mean, it's moving out, right? Residential. It's not going to be all downtown any more. It's coming east. So those are my concerns. There we go. (Applause.)

Political Connections


DAVID JOHNSON: I have a question for you related to your appointment by Governor Rick Scott to the Sarasota County Charter Review Board.. . . Your current term runs through 2018. Can you tell us what impact your political connection will have on your ability to get this rezoning application approved? (Applause.)

JIM GABBERT: I'm happy to respond to that. I was appointed to an opened seat on the Charter Review Board. A year later I ran for re-election, and I was elected by the voters of Sarasota County. So I don't know what -- I'm an elected person. I served as a volunteer on the Charter Review Board for no fee, strictly as a volunteer, to try to protect our charter for the county. I'm a fourth generation Sarasotan. My wife is a fifth generation. We've raised all our children here. We were raised here.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Update: 2nd meeting on Gabbert's Recycling facility next to Celery Fields

For those who missed the first Neighborhood Workshop for Mike Gabbert's (TST Ventures) proposal to put a recycling facility on a 16-acre site near the Celery Fields, a second meeting is planned for Jan. 30, 6 pm, at the Church of Hope (1560 Wendell Kent Rd).

At the first workshop, it was reported that the facility would precipitate 100 trucks a day of additional traffic, and have 35-foot-high piles of construction materials visible behind 8-foot walls, waiting to be recycled.


UPDATE: Gabbert already has an approved Waste Transfer Station to be situated nearby -  on Cattlemen Rd. Documents on this facility can be found here:
Notice of Neighborhood Meeting July 2014 (in Gabbert's offices)
Special Exception Meeting Request with Narrative
County Source Page

The proposed site is currently owned by the County. How long will our Commission and EDC avoid looking for higher, better uses for our land, especially land so near the Celery Fields, a green space, bird sanctuary and Audubon Nature Center that is garnering a national and even international profile for avid birders and eco-tourists?

The second neighborhood meeting has to do with a "critical area plan," according to one planner. The sale of the county's 16 acres is reportedly contingent upon approval of the development.

Here is the workshop data.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tracking toxic development

Some of the developments we're currently tracking:

James Gabbert (TST Ventures LLC) thinks a nifty place for a 12-acre recycling plant is right next to the Celery Fields, a haven for birds and birders from around the world. Here's Gabbert's proposal.

MOSAIC proposes strip mining in Manatee County. Sierra Club, Suncoast Waterkeeper and more organizations plan to be at the Manatee County Commission on Jan. 26, 9 am, to stand against MOSAIC. In advance, write to the Manatee Commissioners - addresses and sample letter here.

Sinkhole by MOSAIC

Neighbors are fighting tooth and nail to halt construction on sites that have already been torn up at Foxfire West for new developments by Medallion Homes (Carlos Beruff) and Meritage, a large Arizona Builder. Stay tuned.

Citizens for Sarasota County and other groups are looking into the County's approval of a 3,450-home housing project on Clark Rd. It seems the County will allow Taylor Morrison at LT Ranch to build homes that will encroach upon a floodplain designated AE where, according to a clear policy of the 2050 Comp Plan, no housing is permissible. (2050 Policy RMA 1.1. – Resource Management Area Ideals includes “Direct population growth away from floodplains.)

Finally, how do you like The Vue so far? BGA discussion Feb. 11 2 pm at Selby.

Monday, January 23, 2017

County "contemplates" comp plan amendments

Sarasota County is "contemplating language" that could amend the terms of the 2050 Comprehensive Plan.

(Click on photo to enlarge)

At a Jan. 18 meeting, Sarasota Planner Vivian Roe presented two amendments proposed by developers for public input:

1. reducing the required open space (OS) for Villages from the current 50% to 33%.
2. reduction in size and or placement of Greenbelt buffers (currently required to be 500' in width).

What's driving the proposed changes?
  • Developers who apply for villages have been revising comp plan policy requesting to reduce the OS from 50% to something less (for specific sites).
  • If there is a change to the policy, each developer requesting a reduction of OS will not need to get a Comp Plan Amendment, just a rezoning, said Sarasota Planner Vivian Roe.

Those present had questions and comments:
-- If this is going to become part of the process, the notification should be expanded - the public needs to know - said one person.
-- To allow more of the open space to be housing - doesn’t this encourage more houses, or more single family format, with less walkability - said another.
-- Expediting development could mean faster tranformation of the remaining open land of the county to tracts of single family homes without character or 2050 value.

While the benefits to developers are clear:
-- simpler application
-- less costly
-- more land to put houses on

The potential downside to everyone else that could result:
-- Loss of village strengths (e.g., walkability)
-- Loss of 2050 priorities and values

Greenbelts could lose any depth or buffering, as happened with LT Ranch on Clark Road.

Several who attended brought up the question of the top-down nature of the county process. In this case, developers propose changes - the public is invited in a secondary move to REact, provide "input" -- followed by the County Commission deciding the issue. What if, at the time developers are PROposing, the County invited citizens to PROactively PROpose, as well? In some cases, as with the proposed recycling center within spitting distance of the Celery Fields, the very land in question is owned by the county - i.e., by us.

Should we not have some proactive procedural primacy?

Citizens with comments can email them directly to the presenting planner, Vivian Roe, at

A few slides from the PowerPoint presentation at Gulf Gate Library

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Two ways to help stop Mosaic

On January 26th, the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners will be holding a public hearing to decide whether or not to approve Mosaic Co.'s request to rezone 3,841 acres of land for phosphate mining.

The people of Florida and Manatee County are against the destruction of our land, the poisoning of our water, and the production of millions of tons of radioactive toxic waste, all for the sake of profit.

Mosaic's Wingate Facility
Photo: Hannah Morse, Bradenton Herald

Here are two ways you can help stop Mosaic:

1. CALL and EMAIL the Commissioners on Monday January 23rd:

On January 23rd we want to flood the phone lines and inboxes of the Manatee County BoCC to let them know that the public does not approve of the Wingate expansion, and we do not want Mosaic Co. in our community!

If you are not a resident of Manatee County you can call the general number: 941-748-4501 ext. 3716

Please send an email to all the commissioners as well!,,,,,,

If you are a resident of Manatee County, you can figure out your district from this map and call the representative from your district.

District 1: Priscilla Whisenant Trace
District 2: Charles B. Smith
District 3: Stephen R Jonsson
District 4: Robin DiSabatino
District 5: Vanessa Baugh
At Large: Carol Whitmore
At Large: Betsy Benac

Suggested Call/Email Script:
Hello, my name is _________. I am calling to inform the (Board of County Commissioners/Commissioner ______) that I oppose Mosaic Co.'s request to rezone 3,800 acres of land in order to expand their phosphate mining operations in Manatee County.  
Phosphate mining produces millions of tons of radioactive waste per year which contaminates air and water. It also destroys ecosystems and land, which is never returned to its previous state. In the best interests of the people of Manatee County, I urge (the Board of County Commissioners/Commissioner ____________) to vote against Mosaic's request on January 26th.
Thank you. 

Mosaic New Wales

2. Attend the public hearing on January 26th -- sign up here:

Mosaic is asking again for permission to destroy another 4000 acres of our mother earth in eastern Manatee County. They will present their request to the Manatee County Commissioners on January 26th. The last time they did this they bused their entire company of 200 employees to the hearing, arriving at 7:30 am and filled the chamber.

This is a call to action, to those of you out there to join together in opposition to their request. We can no longer allow forces to divide and conquer us. The time has come to unite and prevail. We must recognize the urgency of the battles appearing before us and respond in mass protest. "Numbers of people are the currency of movements, while money is the currency of the status quo. "If we don't support each other in bolder ways, we are bound to continue to fail.

Please go to this link and sign up to attend. All we need is 180 people to be there at 7am to fill the seats, and then others to relieve them later on in the day. Come when you can and stay as long as you can. Bring a painting mask with "NO" written on the front to show solidarity to the cause of protecting our land and water from this corporate monster.

We must think of attending not as a casual "come if I can" event but rather an obligation to protect the rights of nature, and commit to a day of service and stewardship. Only a large gathering will draw a reluctant media and jolt an apathetic public to wake up to the damage this corporation is doing.

For more information or questions contact:

Jaime Canfield

Monday, January 16, 2017

Manatee County: Jan. 14 demonstration against Mosaic Mining

Please read: Two more ways to resist Mosaic

Growth eruption: The city of Sarasota

via the Herald Tribune:
Your visual guide to all of the completed, underway or planned projects in downtown Sarasota.

Call it the billion-dollar boom.
Construction is completed, underway or planned on projects that will bring more than 4,200 new apartments, condominiums and hotel rooms in and around downtown Sarasota.
Developers and their lenders are betting heavily that Sarasota is ready to handle such an eruption of growth, which also includes new office and retail spaces.
Dozens of projects, some spanning the maximum 18 stories, will permanently change the appearance of the city, a post-recession surge of building fueled by pent-up demand and confidence in the future.
The city has issued building permits valued at more than $1 billion in the past three years. While that total include all types of construction, such as repairs and renovations, the new projects are the top-dollar draws.
In the 2016 fiscal year alone, the city processed $442 million worth of permits.
The Elan Rosemary apartment, at $33.6 million, the Embassy Suites hotel, at $25 million, and the DeMarcay condo and retail, at $23.7 million, were among the largest.
1500 State Street
1500 State St.
20 condominiums, 4,699 square feet office space, 3,708 square feet retail space
$4.2 million
State Street Partners SRQ LTD.
The Jewel
1301 Main St.
19 condominiums, retail space
$19.4 million
Main Street J Development
The DeSota
1401-1445 Second St.
180 apartments, 15,000 square feet retail space
$40 million
Carter Acquisitions LLC
Hotel Sarasota
1255 N. Palm Ave.
163 rooms, 10,000 square foot ballroom, restaurant
$13 million
Floridays Development Corp.
Embassy Suites & Spa
202 N. Tamiami Trail
180 rooms
$40 million
JEBCO Ventures
1 N. Tamiami Trail
141 condominiums, 255 hotel rooms, 14,000 square foot ballroom
$120.7 million
Kolter Group
Valencia at Rosemary Place
Cocoanut Avenue
30 townhomes
$3.38 million (first 18 units)
Icon Residential
700 Cocoanut Ave.
489 apartments, 8,700 square feet commercial space
$25.7 million (phase 1 of 229 units)
Rosalyn Holdings LLC
Vanguard Lofts
1343 Fourth St.
Six townhomes
$2.4 million
Tetra Terra Development
Risdon on 5th
1350 Fifth St.
22 condominiums, 7,000 square feet office and retail space
$6 million
Steven Bradley
Rosemary Square
1440 Blvd. of the Arts
39 apartments, 30,000 square feet retail and office space
$6.2 million
Rosemary Square LLC
Elan Rosemary Apartments
710 N. Lemon Ave.
286 apartments
$33.6 million
Greystar GB II LLC
Citrus Square, phases 2 and 3
505-555 N. Orange Ave.
28 condos, 4,200 square feet commercial space
$4.4 million
Urban Flats
1401 Fruitville Road
228 apartments, 3,700 square feet retail space
$30 million
Framework Group LLC
School Avenue Townhomes
41 School Ave.
37 residential units
$4.3 million
Icon Residential
Sabal Palm Plaza
1936 Ringling Blvd.
28,660 square feet office space
$5 million
Mark Kauffman
The "Q"
1750 Ringling Blvd.
39 townhomes
$8.4 million
JEBCO Ventures
300 S. Pineapple Ave.
17 condominiums, 2,632 square feet commercial space
$11 million
MK Equity Corp.
Orange Club
635 S. Orange Ave.
15 condos, nine townhomes
$8.7 million
Vandyk USA
624 S. Palm Ave.
17 condominiums
$20 million
The Ronto Group
688 Golden Gate Point
Eight condominiums
$8.6 million
Vandyk Sarasota-Golden Gate Point LLC
Lemon Avenue Pad Site
Lemon Avenue at Pineapple
4,310 square feet of retail/restaurant, 4,310 square feet office space
State Street Partners SRQ Ltd.
The Mark
1400 State St.
157 condominiums, 35,000 square feet of retail, 11,000 square feet office space.
Kolter Group
33 S. Palm Ave.
39 residential units, 2,400 square feet retail space
$23.7 million
XAC Developers
Quay Sarasota (See also SRQ: Another Day, Another Quay)
N. Tamiami Trail
695 residences, 175 hotel rooms, 38,972 square feet office space, 189,000 square feet retail space
$1 billion
GreenPoint Communities LLC
The Sarasota Modern
1242 Blvd. of the Arts
81 hotel rooms
$17 million
Cocoanut Arts LLC
1329 Fourth St.
62 residential units, 2,820 square feet commercial space
$4.2 million
DRAPAC Capital Partners
1542 Fourth St.
Six condos, 5,150 square feet retail space
$4.8 million
Rosemary District Development LLC
Florida Studio Theatre
751 Cohen Way
Five residential units
$1.2 million
Florida Studio Theatre
Office building
2010 Main St.
3,370 square feet retail/restaurant space, 3,370 square feet office space
The Schimberg Group
Fruitville Hotel
1351-1365 Fruitville Road
118 rooms
Choice Hotels International
Azure on Palm
711 S. Palm Ave.
15 residental units, two guest suites
$9.4 million
Thirty-Four-Seventy-Five LLC
Enclave at Laurel Park
1938 Laurel St.
17 single-family and attached homes
$1.2 million.
David Weekley Homes
HUB Building
1697 Second St.
97 residential units, 6,271 square feet office space
$14.9 million.
Biter Idea Vault
Sarasota Station
2211 Fruitville Road
393 apartments
S.S. Sasquatch (Vengroff)
111 Golden Gate Point
10 townhomes
$7 million
JEBCO Ventures
609 Golden Gate Point
609 Golden Gate Point
8 condominiums
Golden Gate Point Ventures LLC
280 Golden Gate Point
Eight condominiums
$11.0 million
280 Golden Gate Point LLC
Hampton Inn & Suites
1330 Fruitville Road
162 rooms
JEBCO Ventures
Payne Park Village
295, 301, 325 and 601 South School Ave.
135 townhomes
David Weekly Homes
State Street Garage
1538 State St.
395 parking spaces, 13,873 square feet retail space
$11.3 million
Garage by city of Sarasota, retail by WMR Consulting
Aloft Hotel and apartments
1 N. Palm Ave.
138 hotel rooms, 139 apartments, 6,000 square feet restaurant, 2,175 square feet retail space
$31.1 million
JWM Management