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NEWBERRY – The June joint meeting between the Newberry City Commission and the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners ended with a number of items delayed until the July 12 City Commission meeting. The five-page agenda listed 14 quasi-judicial public hearings, along with a petition to vacate an unused street, a presentation on the City Fire Department’s equipment replacement needs, establishment of the preliminary fire assessment rate for next year, construction plan approval of Phase One of Country Way South and appointment of a Florida League of Cities Conference voting delegate.

Fire Chief Ben Buckner explained the need to replace the department’s aging 22-year-old quint. The apparatus serves as a fire pump, water tank, carries fire hoses, includes an aerial ladder device to reach the tops of tall buildings and roof tops and carries ground ladders.

In related business, commissioners set the preliminary fire assessment rate for fiscal year 2022 at $195 for residential properties. The rate is not final, and the Commission has the opportunity to lower the rate prior to setting the final fiscal year 2021-22 budget.

In other city business, applications by Causseaux, Hewett and Walpole, Inc. dba CHW, agent for Lexington Parke of Gainesville, LLC to amend the boundary of the City’s Economic Development Overlay Area boundary of the Comprehensive Plan was approved. Also approved was an application to amend the previously approved planned development known as “Sandia Town Parc” and an application to rezone 311.81+/- acres from Agriculture to Planned Development.

Three hearings were conducted on second and final reading to change the Future Land Use Map classification of the previously annexed properties. All three property classifications were changed from County Rural/Agriculture to City of Newberry Agriculture to bring them into conformance with the City’s Official Zoning Atlas.

The first property, owned by Justin and Susanna Richardson, consists of approximately 19.4 acres and is located on the east side of Southwest 250th Street, approximately .62 mile south of Southwest 46th Avenue.

The second property, owned by Emil and Deborah Hodge, consists of approximately 13.7 acres and is located on the north side of Southwest 15th Avenue, approximately .4 mile east of Southwest 226th Street

The third property, owned by Emmel Family Partners, Ltd., consists of approximately 80.87 acres and is located approximately .5 mile north of State Road 26/West Newberry Road and approximately 1.3 miles west of Northwest 202nd Street.

All three properties were then rezoned from Alachua County Agriculture (A) to City of Newberry Agricultural (A) in three separate hearings.

An application by Herb and Jeanie Marlowe, owners, to amend the Future Land Use Plan Map classification from low-density residential (1 – 4 Dwelling Units/Acre) to Medium Density Residential (less than or equal to 8 DU/Acre) on 2.08 acres was approved. The property is located at 24916 S.W. 4th Avenue, 24928 S.W. 4th Avenue and 24902 S.W. 4th Avenue. The property is located on the north side of Oakview Middle School.

Once the Future Land Use Map was changed, Newberry Principal Planner Kinser-Maxwell presented a second application to rezone the property from Residential-Single Family (RSF-1) to Residential, Multiple-Family (RMF-1) on the same 2.08 acres. This application also received approval.

Two separate hearings of Ordinance 2021-27 and 2021-28, which are contiguous, were heard and both received approval. The first property consists of approximately 40.3 acres and the second property consists of approximately 7.66 acres. Kinser-Maxwell said enactment would take place on July 26 of these two ordinances.

A public hearing was conducted on first reading to de-annex a parcel of land, which was earlier annexed into the City under a barrage of criticism by Alachua County. The property is referred to by the City as the “windmill” property because of its configuration. The de-annexation, when finalized, will resolve a conflict between the City and County. Planning and Economic Development Director Bryan Thomas presented this item and indicated that the property owner would not be able to reapply to the City later because the properties between the city limits and the subject property are now in the County’s Growth Management Area.

A legislative public hearing of Ordinance 2021-25 resulted in approval to vacate a portion of Northwest 2nd Avenue between Seaboard Coast Line Railroad and Northwest 254th Street. Property owners Pat Post and William Watson will each receive 25 feet of property from this transaction. City Manager Mike New said one of the property owners will have a utility easement on their property.

Construction plan approval for Phase One of Country Way South subdivision received approval, but not without a concern expressed regarding early morning traffic impacts as drivers attempt to exit Country Way. This subdivision is expected to build 41 houses. Engineer Allison Fettner was on hand to answer questions. A round about was discussed as one option for the City to look into with the Florida Department of Transportation.

In other business, Commissioner Mark Clark was elected to be the voting delegate at the Florida League of Cities 95th Annual Conference Aug. 12-14.

City Manager New announced a series of workshops, many of which are part of the budgeting process. The final workshop on the Visioning process will take place in August, but dates are not yet firm.

A new law passed by the State Legislature requires that a property rights element be added to all Comprehensive Plans in Florida. Until that element has been added and approved by the state, all amendments to Comprehensive Plans will be on hold.

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