NEWBERRY ‒ The City of Newberry’s Seaboard Drive Connector Road Project is inching toward reality. At the Oct. 25 City Commission meeting, Commissioners unanimously authorized the city manager to execute a Vacant Land Contract to acquire Tax Parcel 01989-020-038, a 0.21-acre parcel of land, for $12,000. The land acquisition is expected to facilitate the Seaboard Drive Connector Road Project. The City is also working to obtain easement rights from CSX to construct the new road and sidewalks, which when completed, will allow Seaboard Drive to continue to Southwest 15th Avenue.

When the Arrowpoint subdivision was originally platted, the parcel was identified for use as recreation. The parcel never developed and eventually came to be owned by Mary Forbes Chambers, who died in 2017. Her heirs were not aware of the parcel, which they now own. The County Property Appraiser’s Office sold tax certificates on the property each year since 2017 for a total of $966.

The heirs are willing to sell the property for $12,000 in exchange for the City also paying off the outstanding tax certificates.

In other City business, Newberry Fire Chief Ben Buckner presented an ordinance for Commission consideration and comment to address permitting fireworks in the city of Newberry. Buckner pointed out that although the City had an ordinance declaring it unlawful to manufacture, sell, use, possess, display or discharge fireworks in the city, the list of City fees listed a fee for the Fire Department’s inspection of fireworks displays prior to shooting them.

Buckner researched Alachua County’s ordinance and other city ordinances dealing with fireworks and prepared an ordinance for review. He said the ordinance mirrored the County’s fireworks ordinance. Due to Commission comments, Buckner will bring back another version of the ordinance for consideration at a later date.

In other businesses, the Newberry City Commission heard and approved nine items following quasi-judicial public hearings at Monday night’s meeting, including a number of rezoning requests.

Planning and Economic Development Director Bryan Thomas introduced Ordinance 2021-50/CPA 21-15 on first reading. This is an application by Joseph J. and Teresa L. Hoffman to amend the Future Land Use Plan Map of the Comprehensive Plan by changing the Future Land Use classification from Agriculture to Commercial on approximately 18.48 acres, located at 20785 and 20737 West Newberry Road.

This small-scale amendment was heard by the Planning and Zoning Board at their Oct. 4 meeting and was unanimously recommended to the City Commission by that board. The property is across the street from the City’s water line and any development that occurs on that property will require the property owner to hook up to that line. Currently, the wastewater line is between a quarter-mile and a half-mile from the property. The property owner is required to hook up to the wastewater system whenever the line is within 800 feet of the property.

A development agreement between the City and the Hoffmans on the same property also received approval on second reading.

In a third action on the same property, Ordinance 2021-51/LDR 21-23 was approved on first reading. The application amends the Official Zoning Atlas by changing the zoning from Agricultural (A) to Commercial, Intensive (CI). This application was revised from the originally-requested Commercial, General (CG) based on the Planning and Zoning Board’s recommendation. The CI zoning classification limits building intensity to maximum Floor Area Ratios from 1.0 to 0.50 for properties between one and 20 acres and requires that no portion of any structure shall exceed 72 feet high.

In other Commission action, Ordinance 2021-29/CPA 21-13 also received approval and represents a large-scale amendment to the Future Land Use classification of the City’s Comprehensive Plan on three parcels of land totaling approximately 237.92 acres. The proposed change is from Alachua County Rural/Agriculture to City of Newberry Agriculture.

Large scale plan amendments require review by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and other state agencies in accordance with the expedited amendment procedures established in Florida Statutes.

Since the County’s Rural/Agriculture and the City’s Agriculture classifications both allow residential densities of “less than or equal to one dwelling unit per five acres” and continuation of similar agriculture uses and intensities, no additional density is allowed based upon changing from the County’s to the City’s designation.

If all requested changes are ultimately approved on these 237.92 acres, the property owner has shown interest in installing a zipline park over the mining pits on Northwest 202nd Street.

A rezoning application, Ordinance 2021-30/LDR 21-21, was approved on first reading by the Commission during this meeting, contingent on approval of CPA 21-13 by the state of Florida. If the state does not contest the Comprehensive Plan Amendment, the property’s zoning will be considered for rezoning from Alachua County Agriculture (A) to City of Newberry Agriculture (A) upon second reading by the Commission.

Ordinance 2021-52/CPA 21-16 received approval to amend the Future Land Use Plan Map of the Comprehensive Plan by changing the Future Land Use classification from Alachua County Rural/Agriculture to City of Newberry Agriculture on two contiguous parcels totaling approximately 40.3 acres. The properties consist of Tax Parcels 01834-003-000 and 01834-006-000, each of which consist of approximately 20.15 acres. The parcels are located approximately one-quarter mile south of Northwest 46th Avenue and about a mile east of Northwest 298th Street (county line).

Ordinance 2021-54/CPA 21-17 received approval on first reading to amend the Future Land Use Map of the City of Newberry Comprehensive Plan, to change the property’s future land use designation from Alachua County Rural/Agriculture (less than or equal to one dwelling unit per five acres) to City of Newberry Agriculture with the same number of dwelling units per five acres. The property (Tax Parcel 04265-007-000) consists of approximately 7.66 acres and is located approximately one-third mile east of Northwest 202nd Street, on the north side of West Newberry Road, just west of Pet Paradise.

Two additional rezoning applications were approved on first reading during the Oct. 25 meeting. Both applications are requests to change the zoning from Alachua County Agriculture (A) to City of Newberry Agriculture (A). The first is Ordinance 2021-53/LDR 21-24, Tax Parcel Numbers 01834-003-000 and 01834-006-000. (This application is contingent upon approval of CPA 21-16.)

The second is Ordinance 2021-55/LDR 21-25, Tax Parcel Number 04265-0070-000, which is contingent upon approval of CPA 21-17.)

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