SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) — Rural Sarasota County residents continue what they’re calling a ‘David versus Goliath’ fight in court this week against Sarasota County.

They’re challenging a controversial approval commissioners made last fall to change the comprehensive plan and ultimately pave the way for more development in east county, or what many residents consider ‘the country’.

The development, which is an extension of neighboring Lakewood Ranch, would bring up to 5,000 new homes to a 4,100 acre property that sits between Fruitville Road and University Parkway. The plot of land wraps around existing rural neighborhoods such as Bern Creek Ranches, where Eileen Fitzgerald and her husband live. They say saving their rural lifestyle is worth the big battle.

“It is a rural, quiet, beautiful lifestyle where we make very small footprint on our lots. We really enjoy nature. I think we are preserving God’s country and it is just a benefit for the people who live here and not catering to every new resident that comes across the county line,” said Fitzgerald. “Just because people are coming, doesn’t mean you have to completely destroy the only rural agricultural corner that is left.”

The Fitzgeralds say protecting their way of living means preserving it for future generations. Other residents out east agree.

“This is about future generations in Sarasota, it is about the ability of children to be able to grow up in a rural atmosphere, to learn the values of a rural community, to learn that you don’t go to the store every day and you can live without a phone attached to your hand. This is an opportunity to continue to keep that issue in the public’s eye and maybe, if we do it long enough, the commissioners will realize that there is a huge support for this, and they will let us keep the country, country,” said Old Miakka resident Beck Ayech.

Sarasota County could not comment on the ongoing hearing as they do not comment on active litigation.

Once the hearing wraps up this week, both parties will submit recommendation orders to the judge. A ruling from the judge is expected by the end of this year, then the issue will be sorted out on the state level. After that, there is still the possibility of further appeals.