Gulf Gate residents are hoping to stop nearly 50 acres of wetlands from turning into pavement.

A large developer is looking to build more homes, but the County may have other ideas.

“There’s not many 49 acre parcels or larger this close to the bay,” said Sarasota resident Kathleen Goff.

Lennar Homes is the current land owner. They are the most recent developer looking to build over 100 homes on three remaining parcels in Gulf Gate that used to be the golf course.

“All this area used to be wetlands. Wetlands was an open area where water could filter through and go right into the bay clean,” said Cass Smith, a board director for Gulf Gate Community Association. 

That would change if it became pavement. Among concerns for wildlife, dust, and construction, residents say this land is special because it could provide relief in the fight against red tide.

“What we are facing now is a serious contamination problem and this parcel may be a partial solution to storm water storage and the filtration of the nutrients and other contaminates that now go directly into that bay and fuel the red tide situation,” said Smith.

Sarasota County has expressed significant interest in buying the land. The proposed plan would turn the area into a mini celery fields.

“Fortunately Sarasota County has one identified the 49 acres on the list of lands to purchase for storm water management and two Sarasota County sent a willing seller letter to the owner of that parcel,” said Goff.

Hundreds of people showed up to a gulf gate meeting on Tuesday to discuss the proposal.

“We can’t miss this opportunity. It will be such an advantage for not just Gulf Gate but it will be a win-win for the whole Sarasota County community all the way down to Siesta Key,” said Smith. 

Five other developers have passed on the opportunity to develop the golf course lands over the years.

The county sent the willing seller letter to Lennar homes in August and have yet to hear back.