Whole Foods wins wetlands rezoning in Sarasota

Whole Foods plans to anchor a retail center on rezoned wetlands.
Whole Foods plans to anchor a retail center on rezoned wetlands.

Grocery chain Whole Foods convinced Sarasota County to rezone 4.5 acres of forested wetland preserve to allow for development of a retail center anchored by a Whole Foods supermarket.

Sarasota County commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of Whole Foods’ rezoning proposal. The commissioners also approved a change in the county’s long-term growth plan to accommodate the opening of a Whole Foods store near the intersection of Honore Avenue and University Parkway in Sarasota.

Staff from Sarasota County’s Planning and Development Services Department had resisted the rezoning, calling the wetlands habitat “rare and unique and important.” But Sarasota County’s Planning Commission last month unanimously recommended the rezoning.

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Continued preservation of the 4.5 acres of wetland would block development of a retail center there with a Whole Foods store, a WaWa convenience store and a gas station.

Jeff Garrison of Atlanta-based SJ Collins Enterprises, which works with Whole Foods on development projects, told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune,  “This was the only location that was viable for Whole Foods” after a search ruled out nearly a dozen other sites.

A purchase of 41 acres of wetland preserve in the Manatee River Basis will mitigate the rezoning of the 4.5-acre preserve where Whole Foods plans to open a store. [Sarasota Herald-Tribune] — Mike Seemuth

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