HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The High Springs City Commission on Oct. 27 approved rezoning 688 acres in a 3 – 1 vote with High Springs City Commissioner Katherine Weitz casting the dissenting vote.
The rezoning request remained a point of controversy for residents who oppose the proposed Bridlewood development and associated Ordinance 2022-18.
Although the developer, upon learning that Mayor Byran Williams would not be present at the Oct. 27 meeting, requested consideration of the proposed Bridlewood development be rescheduled to the November meeting, citizens requested that the issue go ahead as planned. The ordinance rezones the 687.81 acres from PD-1, Planned Development, and R-1, Residential, to PD-12 Planned Development. The property is located in the southern sector of the City east of U.S. Highway 41 near the City’s wastewater treatment plant.
Residents had earlier complained that the subdivision was too large and would cause traffic congestion and increase crime in the city.
At the Oct. 27 meeting, one citizen proposed that a referendum be voted on by residents instead of five people sitting as a Commission making a decision that affects all the citizens. He also said he wanted the City to use an independent engineer and not the developer’s engineer to “school” the Commission.
City Manager Ashley Stathatos responded that there have been several meetings open to the public at the Commission level and also at workshops at the Civic Center. “State statutes deal with how to deal with property rights and planning and zoning items, said Stathatos. “You cannot do a referendum on planning and zoning items, and we have had more meetings than I can count.”
The intent of the rezoning request is to develop the property as a master planned, mixed-use development consisting of single-family, multi-family, senior living facilities, nonresidential (commercial) uses, school facilities and public facilities.
Currently there are three existing plats on the property, Tamiami Gardens No. 3, 5 and 6 consisting of approximately 1,440 residential lots to which the developer has entitlements.
The Planned Development proposes 1,437 single-family lots ranging from 7,000 to 10,000 square feet. A maximum of 250 multi-family units and 200 senior living facilities are also proposed. Acreage for a school site, public facilities and non-residential development is included as well.
Another concern raised by a resident at the Oct. 27 meeting was reuse water being applied to lawns. The developer’s consultant, JBPro, Inc. Engineer Chris Potts, said that while the EPA has no regulations on this in the state of Florida, water coming out of a wastewater treatment plant is regulated more stringently than potable (drinking) water. Potts also said that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) prefer to use alternative methods for irrigation so that potable water can be extended further and that all state agencies will be applied to for permits included the Florida Department of Transportation, SRWMD and FDEP at the appropriate point in the process.
High Springs City Commissioner Katherine Weitz disagreed, saying that regulations on reuse water do not address nitrogen and phosphorus as well as other pollutants.
According to Weitz, the scope of the development and the rezoning is fairly new to people in town and she is in favor of another public meeting so citizens could have input. Stathatos responded that there have been numerous Commission meetings, Planning and Zoning Board meetings and workshops that have been above and beyond what the City would normally require. “I think we’re getting into dangerous territory to ask for more, more and more after three renditions of this application and changes that the developer has made based on previous citizen input,” Stathatos said. “I think we need to make a decision at this or the next meeting.”
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