Conservationists push back on approved waste transfer facility
SARASOTA COUNTY - The ongoing dispute over the embattled Sarasota County Celery Fields continue as conservationists push back on a local businessman's plans for a waste transfer facility near the fields.
A storm water facility turned itself into a Suncoast sensation. Robert Wright, Conservation Chairman for Sarasota Audubon Society said it hasn't , "The Celery Fields has turned into, over the past few years to be just a wonderful place for people to come, see wildlife, walk in the clean, fresh air, and just enjoy nature within the hub of all the development going on around us."
"Development that's going to increase traffic and increase potentially the pollution that comes with traffic,"Wright said. In 2017, Wright, along with groups like Save The Celery Fields and Fresh start Initiative swayed County Commissioners to vote against local businessman, James Gabbert's plan to use 10 acres of adjacent land for a recycling center.
"We were relieved that he wouldn't be dumping chemicals into the water," said President of Save The Celery Fields, David Johnson. Gabbert persisted, and gained approval from commissioners on a smaller scale project; a waste transfer facility on a 4 acre parcel on the corner or Palmer Boulevard and porter road.
David Johnson, President of Save The Celery Fields said conservation activists were left in the dark. "He happen to manage to get this approved without having to tell too many people about it and in fact, almost no one showed up to oppose the plan for the facility that he's planning to build right now because there simply was no knowledge of it," he said.
Johnson feared Gabbert's waste transfer facility could have repercussions on nearby wildlife. "We're still very concerned about the zoning for the properties that the county still wants to sell and who might come along with another plan and with a different set of commissioners, maybe they can get something even worse approved than a recycling dump," he said.
SNN reached out to Gabbert's team, who did not respond to comment.