Sarasota, Florida - Walmart's plans to put another store in Sarasota are once again met with opposition.
Last week, Sarasota city commissioners rejected Walmart's plans for a Supercenter Walmart and now the company is targeting the county, but needs the land rezoned.
Beneva and Bee Ridge Roads one of Sarasota County's busiest intersections, and that is why many homeowners living nearby are against rezoning this church property to commercial for a Walmart Neighborhood Market. Residents say it will increase traffic, impact safety and quality of life.
"This is our neighborhood, we are trying to protect it and our property values," Sharon Whalen told Sarasota County Commissioners during Wednesday's commission meeting. Whalen lives a few blocks from the church property.
Whalen says, "We're looking at a quiet church that operates 10 hours a week and we replace it with a grocery store [that operates] 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The trade-off is nothing that is good for our neighborhood."
County planners recommend rezoning the four-acre church property to commercial. This would allow for a 42,000 square-foot Walmart Neighborhood Market to move in. The store would create 90 jobs.
"This store, like our first Neighborhood Market in Sarasota, will be a great addition to the community," says Bill Wertz, a spokesperson for Walmart. Wertz adds, "We believe our neighborhood store offers convenient shopping and affordable prices."
But 318 homeowners in the community have signed a petition saying to leave the zoning as is for office space.
Homeowner Richard Moran tells the commissioners, "This is a bad spot. You guys are smart, use common sense. Think."
"We don't need another grocery store, already have one across the street, there's a Walmart 2.5 miles away," says Gabrielle Knowlton a homeowner.
Moran adds, "You got a lot of old people, you got a lot of poor people, you got a lot people with kids; this is a dangerous spot."
Wertz says Walmart will work with the community. "We will work hard to listen and understand concerns and do our best to alleviate them."
Whalen says homeowners will continue their fight. She says, "This is worth fighting for. This is our neighborhood, our property values at risk, our peace of mind, our quality of life is at risk."
Due to a board member's absence, Sarasota County Commissioners postponed their vote until the April 24th meeting. Homeowners opposing the rezoning say that will give them more time to get the word out and build support against the rezoning.
Follow 10 News Reporter Isabel Mascarenas on twitter @IzzyMascarenas