Sarasota couple fights to protect rural neighborhood from nearby development

Stack of "Keep the Country...Country" signs in Sarasota // Credit: "Keep the Country Country" Facebook July 2022


A couple is fighting a plan for thousands of new homes near their rural northeastern Sarasota County neighborhood. The couple has taken legal action and is awaiting a decision from the courts.

Michael Hutchinson lives in northeastern Sarasota County. His calm, rural neighborhood has horses, very little traffic, and an overall slow pace. But he fears new developments not far away may threaten what makes the area unique.

“We’re really nervous that when this comes in, it will change everything for us.”

Sarasota County Commissioners approved Lakewood Ranch to build a community of up to 5,000 homes on 4100 acres near the neighborhood.

So Hutchinson, and his wife, Eileen Fitzgerald, sued Sarasota County.

He says the fight has been happening since last February when Lakewood Ranch presented the idea to county commissioners.

“It’s a different lifestyle living on five-, ten-acre parcels. It’s different for a lot of different reasons. A lot of the homeowners that have that property have it for horses. They’re into horses one way or another.”

A ruling is expected this month.

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