NEWBERRY – An item that garnered the most attention at the City of Newberry Jan. 3 Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Board meeting was a proposed amendment to the Land Development Regulations (LDR) to allow small-scale rural event centers by special exception in the City’s Agricultural Zoning District.

Triggering this LDR amendment was a request by Shabnam Rumpf-Monadizadeh to allow her to run a small-scale (300 participants or less) event center which may include a petting zoo, a beer garden, an urban vegetable garden, a small wedding venue, a yoga studio or a number of other educational or entertainment-related events.

Planning and Economic Development Director Bryan Thomas pointed out that allowing this type of use by special exception rather than by right allows the City’s Board of Adjustment (BOA) control over whether they choose to approve applications. He pointed out that a list of examples of allowable uses did not mean that the BOA had to allow all of those uses in all cases. The ordinance allowing for this amendment could be written to sunset at a certain time, could follow the land or could follow with the applicant.

P&Z Vice Chair Gavin Johnson expressed strong concern that allowing this use in an Agricultural Zoned District may constitute a burden for neighbors. He also voiced concern that allowing one person to obtain the special exception might mean the City couldn’t deny someone else under the same circumstances.

According to Thomas, under a special exception process, the City would be able to deny a different application for the same type of business if there was a compelling reason not to approve a second business. He also explained that the approval of one special exception application does not set a precedent for the approval of a similar subsequent application. A special exception application allows the City to review each application on the merits of the intended use.

“If we’re not willing to allow any commercial use in an Agricultural Zoned District, then we need to say we’re not going to allow anything,” said City Manager Mike New. “However, I think our citizens want to allow us to make opportunities for people to do things, but they expect us to control it enough so they aren’t a burden on their neighbor.”

Board Member Linda Woodcock said, “We can’t put everything in an ordinance. We can’t possibly address everything.” She added that approving the ordinance and seeing how it works would also allow time for the citizens to provide input on how it’s working.

By a 4-1 vote, the P&Z Board recommended approval of Ordinance 2022-18/LDR 22-01 to the City Commission. Johnson casting the dissenting vote.

In other business, a quasi-judicial hearing on Ordinance 2021-74/LDR 21-27 was conducted for property owned by Shabnam Rumpf-Monadizadeh.

The City Commission originally adopted Ordinance 2017-18 on Nov. 13, 2017, approving the voluntary annexation of several contiguous parcels including an approximately 4.27-acre parcel identified as Tax Parcel 04370-001-000. The annexations were in dispute, but have since been resolved, which is why they were addressed by the Planning and Zoning Board on Jan. 3.

The Board gave unanimous approval to recommend approval to the City Commission on this property, located on the south side of State Road 26/West Newberry Road along both sides of a portion of Southwest 174th Street, as well as several others.

To bring the property into conformance with the City’s Future Land Use Map and with the City’s Official Zoning Atlas, LDR 21-27 was addressed by the Board to amend the City’s Official Zoning Atlas by changing the zoning from Alachua County Agriculture (A) to City of Newberry Agricultural (A).

The proposed rezoning is contingent upon approval of the associated Application CPA 21-29 by the City Commission, which proposes to change this property’s Future Land Use category from County to City.

Thomas introduced Resolution 2022-01/SE 22-01, which was brought by Jayne Tate, Agent for GPS Newberry East LLC, owner. In a quasi-judicial public hearing, Thomas said the request was for a special exception to allow Greenfield East Pre-school to expand on its 1.03 acres at 21805 W. Newberry Road, which is located at Newberry Road and 218th Street.

The expansion will allow the facility to increase student levels from 58 to 101 children. Thomas said that staff will likely double as well.

Concern about increased trips, which may possibly require a turn lane or traffic study, was discussed. A motion to approve recommending approval to the BOA at their Jan. 11 meeting was made with the caveat that the applicant make contact with the Florida Department of Transportation to discuss whether further traffic studies would be required. The motion received unanimous approval.

The Board also voted to recommend the following items to the City Commission:

Ordinance 2022-04/CPA 21-30, a large-scale amendment consisting of approximately 133.12 acres, Ordinance 2022-05/CPA 21-31, a small-scale amendment consisting of approximately 38.2 acres, Ordinance 2022-06/CPA 21-32, a small-scale amendment consisting of approximately 7.38 acres, Ordinance 2022-07/CPA 21-3301-06-22, a large-scale amendment consisting of approximately 194.44 acres, Ordinance 2022-08/CPA 21-34, consisting of approximately 4.27 acres, Ordinance 2022-14/LDR 21-41, consisting of several contiguous parcels totaling approximately 133.12 acres and Ordinance 2022-15/LDR 21-42, consisting of 4.27 acres.

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