Sarasota News Leader

10/5/12

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CHARTER CHANGERS One of the seven proposed charter amendments for the City of Sarasota would remove a measure aimed at stopping construction of a Walmart in 2007. Today, a new Walmart is open and busy on the North Tamiami Trail. Photo by Norman Schimmel ERASING THE ANTI-WALMART LANGUAGE By Stan Zimmerman City Editor What a difference five years makes. Today the city is about to authorize a new Walmart only a few blocks east of downtown. Five years ago, the city put into the charter a provision aimed directly at stopping a Walmart from coming to the north end of town. The charter is a relatively slim document, but more than six of its pages today are devoted to the 2007 anti-Walmart provision. On Nov. 6, voters will be asked to repeal that language — stripping it from the charter. The old language was a product of time and place. The year 2007 was just past the peak of property values, and few people in town were hurting. Walmart proposed building a store at the southeast corner of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Washington Boulevard on a con- taminated site. The company offered to clean up the site and employ more than 50 people. While a majority of north Sarasota civic lead- ers embraced the project, others began a pe- tition drive to throw up roadblocks. The peti- tioners said any company receiving more than $100,000 in government subsidies and employ- ing more than 50 people would have to pay workers $10.70 per hour or more. At the time, Florida's minimum wage was $7.25. Walmart met those criteria, taking a govern- ment subsidy to help clean up the old dump site before it would begin erecting its build- ing. When the charter amendment passed,

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