|This is the site of James Gabbert’s pending Waste Transfer Facility as seen from I-75, with the Celery Fields in the distance. The row of trees separates Gabbert’s planned facility from the Public’s 10-acre quad parcel #2. Gabbert received his permit Jan. 31.|
James Gabbert received county approval to build his Waste Transfer Facility (WTF) (six acres at Porter and Palmer next to the highway) on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Mr. Gabbert's parcel is immediately adjacent to I-75. He owns his site, the small rectangle at the left side of parcel #2. The numbered parcels are public land.
- This is an open facility: Tall piles of construction debris will present a highway eyesore, blighting the view and character of the Celery Fields public lands (photo above).
- This WTF will be the first thing drivers see coming through the I-75 underpass at Palmer Blvd.
- Trucks entering and leaving the facility on Palmer by Bell Rd. could clog traffic from the industrial parks residents Palmer Blvd at the underpass.
- Six acres is small for such uses, and the location is just plain wrong. There's no evidence the county ever did a diligent site study as advised by the Federal EPA Guide for Waste Transfer Stations.
- This heavy industrial use required a special exception (the land was originally zoned for light industry). This harsher use could influence future planning for the public lands at Apex and Palmer. For example, the county could consider affordable housing on the 13-acre public parcel #2 next to it - but given the WTF, they might incline to see heavy industry as "more compatible."
Write to your district commissioner (copying the others) and relevant county staff and demand that this incompatible plan be mitigated every way possible.
- attractive buffering
- appropriate hours of operation
- enclosed facility (the plan calls for an open facility)
- compatible lighting
- sound fencing
- themed fencing - perhaps something linked to birding or the celery fields?
- safe turning lanes
- Mark Loveridge - Planning and development permitting: email@example.com
- Matt Osterhoudt - Planning Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jane Grogg - Long Range Planning: email@example.com
- Steve Kirk - Planner, Critical Area Plan for the Public Parcels firstname.lastname@example.org
- County Administrator Jonathan Lewis: email@example.com
- CC or BCC: Fresh Start: freshstartSarasota@gmail.com
Elected Officials - This land is in District 1, Commissioner Moran's district:
District 1: Mike Moran: firstname.lastname@example.org
District 2: Christian Ziegler: email@example.com
District 3: Nancy C. Detert: firstname.lastname@example.org
District 4: Alan Maio: email@example.com
District 5: Charles Hines: firstname.lastname@example.org
All five commissioners can also be copied by using email@example.com
NOTE: Commissioners Maio and Moran voted FOR Gabbert's larger Waste Processing Facility that the citizens of Sarasota strenuously opposed, ultimately persuading three Commissioiners - Caragiulo, Detert, and Hines - to vote against the dump in August 2017. Gabbert already had his 6-acre site approval. Mr. Gabbert and Robert Waechter have long been paying supporters of four board members (only Detert is not funded by them), and political allies of Maio in particular.
At least two legal considerations ought to have been addressed during the 2015 approval process for this plan, but neither appears to have been considered either by the Board or its attorney:
1. When the Board approved Gabbert's rezone of the six acres, it ignored a county ordinance that specifically requires lands along the I-75 corridor to present a "park-like setting." The I-75 Corridor Plan Ordinance #89-35, Exhibit B, Item M, states:
In recognition of I-75 as an area of critical concern, all critical area plans within the I-75 Critical Area of Concern shall be consistent with the following where applicable:
(m) a positive image for I-75 through the establishment of quality development within a park-like setting.2. The Board also approved Gabbert's waste transfer facility in violation of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, which aims, among other things, to beautify highways by screening or forbidding junkyards.
The act called for control of outdoor advertising, including removal of certain types of signs, along the nation's growing Interstate Highway System and the existing federal-aid primary highway system. It also required certain junkyards along Interstate or primary highways to be removed or screened and encouraged scenic enhancement and roadside development. Highway Beautification Act.Most reasonable citizens would say that the Board's action violated both laws.
The Board is about to reopen a critical area plan that concerns these public parcels. Some fear that the Board’s thinking about Parcel #2 might be impacted by Mr. Gabbert’s WTF, as well as Robert Waechter’s warehouses along its south side. The Board might find it easier to say, “Although this parcel is public land, it’s already bordered on two sides by industrial uses, so it should be industrial too.”
This is supposed to be the Board's' role as public steward and an opportunity to do something positive and of public value on our public lands.
Instead the process has been a chess game in which the public is treated like an opponent that has to be outwitted through sneaky stratagems. When planning and considering the sale of public lands, the only appropriate civic use of the term "highest and best use" is “a use that serves some significant public good.”
What are some potential public uses for these parcels?
History and tourist center
Food trucks or eatery
New forested bird habitat to buffer the Celery Fields
Send us more ideas
County Ordinance #89-35, Exhibit B, Item M requires that development along the I-75 corridor offer “a park-like setting.”
Timeline of Board handling of WTF and Waste Processing Facility
08.20.2015: Planning Commission 8.20.2015 hearing on WTF Item 4 (video)
10.14.2015: Board of County Commissioners hearing on WTF Item 8 (video) Gabbert's waste transfer facility was approved. Moved for approval by Maio, approved by Commissioners Maio, Hines, Robinson, Caragiulo, Mason.
|Spoonie courtesy of Chuck Behrmann|