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Celery Fields Gets Reprieve From Industrial Plant

A scrap recycling center won't be built next to popular Sarasota bird sanctuary after all.

After a public hearing that took nearly eight hours, Sarasota commissioners voted three to two late Wednesday to reject an industrial recycling plant next to Celery Fields.

The 16 acre-site was originally purchased by Sarasota County for stormwater retention, but was placed decades ago on a list of surplus lands. Since, then, Celery Fields, a former farm, has been transformed into a sanctuary for scores of bird species.

Commissioner Nancy Detert proposed a motion to reject the rezoning.

"Everything's changed out there because of the popularity of the Celery Fields and I think we own this property," she said. "We should take it off of the surplus list."

Detert, Charles Hines and Paul Caragiulo voted against the rezoning, with Al Maio and Mike Moran voting in favor.

Nearly a hundred people spoke at the meeting, with most opposing the rezoning. It would have allowed scrap piles up to 35 feet tall - which would tower over the eight-foot-tall walls intended to buffer it from the preserve. They also complained about noise and dust pollution, as well as traffic on Palmer Boulevard.

The company proposing the recycling center, TST Ventures, L.L.C, already owns four acres of the 16-acre parcel. They wanted it declared surplus property so it could be purchased.

Credit Sarasota County
Aerial view of the property. Celery Fields is to the right


Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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