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SQUEAKING THROUGH Sarasota Planning Board member Jennifer Ahearn-Koch noted during the board's Nov. 14 discus- sion that the existing shopping center on Ringling is an assembly of small shops. A Publix store anchored the center. Photo by Norman Schimmel WITH A SPLIT VOTE, THE CITY'S PLANNING BOARD GIVES ITS APPROVAL TO WALMART FOR A SUPERCENTER ON THE SITE OF THE RINGLING SHOPPING CENTER By Stan Zimmerman City Editor The surprise was not that the Walmart store proposed on Charles Ringling Boulevard was approved Wednesday evening, Nov. 14. The surprise was that two Sarasota Planning board members found seri- ous reasons to vote against it. By all appearances, this was an open-and- shut case. The grow- ing-ever-emptier Ring- ling Shopping Center, at 97,000 square feet, would be replaced by a 98,000-square-foot Walmart Supercenter with a grocery. Every metric — zoning, city codes, parking require- ments, traffic — had a green light from city staff. Anything you can do to make it better for the neighborhood, it would be appreciated. It's excruciatingly important. Sarasota Planning Board Jennifer Ahearn-Koch Member Even the associations for the two adjacent neighborhoods were not opposed to the project. Those same two neighborhoods — Alta Vista and the Gar- dens of Ringling Park —fought Ron Burks' high-rise School Ave- nue project to a stand-

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