NEWBERRY ‒ The City of Newberry has approved two ordinances that the City Commission says will provide infill construction in the center of town. The two local ordinances were unanimously approved at the Jan. 23, Newberry City Commission meeting.

The first was a zoning change request made by eda consultants, inc. Director of Planning Clay Sweger, acting as agent for Pat M. Post, owner. Sweger requested an amendment to the Official Zoning Atlas of the City’s Land Development Regulations by changing the zoning from Residential (Mixed) Single-Family/Mobile Home (RSF/MH-2) to Planned Residential Development (PRD) on 48.2 +/- acres. The vacant property is located on the east side of Northwest 266th Street, between Northwest 8th Lane and Northwest 3rd Place.

The current zoning requires a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet, which only allows 145 dwelling units. The zoning change to PRD would allow the developer to establish his own lot sizes and setbacks. He is proposing a lot size of 6,600 square feet within the first area, referred to as Area 1 and 5,500 square feet in Area 2. Over one-third of the site is open space and stormwater retention area.

The proposed lot sizes will allow for 30 – 40 homes in Area 1, the northern most area, and 135 – 145 in Area 2. During the first hearing on Dec. 12, Sweger said there was a possibility that 16 tiny homes may be part of the Area 2 lot configuration, but that had not been decided.

Minor modifications to the Preliminary Development Plan were made to incorporate 60-foot rights-of-way throughout the development, which adds a future right-of-way connection to the platted and unimproved Northwest 3rd Place.

CRA funding will be put into a sidewalks program and this area would be one of the areas considered for improvement, according to City Manager Mike New. Principal Planner Jean-Paul Perez said, “This project is expected to improve infrastructure in the CRA district with roadway paving and improvement and the extension of water and sewer to un-served areas.”

The zoning change was unanimously approved on second reading.

A request for preliminary plat approval from Gmuer Engineering, LLC, agent, on behalf of Morlynn Properties, LLC, owner, also received unanimous approval. Morlynn Subdivision is proposed to be constructed on 1.69 +/- acres located at 25749 S.W. 1st Avenue. This item received substantial discussion from Planning and Zoning Board members when it was heard by that board on Jan. 3.

Two recommendations from the Planning and Zoning Board included a request that the engineer consult with the Alachua County arborist on the existing trees that might hinder the installation of sidewalks and also that foundation surveys are to be conducted.

Christopher Gmuer spoke on behalf of the property owner and said he is waiting for the official report from the arborist but that the trees in question were not Live Oaks (which the Planning and Zoning Board wanted preserved), but instead were Water Oaks.

Although no formal decision was made about the sidewalks, it was implied that the developer would remove the existing trees to make room for sidewalks.

The Morlynn Subdivision property was rezoned from Residential, Single-Family (RSF-2) to Planned Development (PD) on July 11, 2022. This property is wholly or partially located within the Urban Service Area, Community Redevelopment Area, Historic District, Economic Development Opportunity Area and Transportation Enhancement Project Area ‒ an area the City would like to have developed because utilities are already present and the subdivision would provide infill.

The subdivision will contain 15 lots for construction of detached single-family residences. The existing home currently located on proposed Lot 15 will be preserved and incorporated into the Planned Development. Access to the homes will be by a private alley. Maintenance of the “open space” and alley will be controlled by a homeowners’ association. Electric, potable water and sanitary sewer services will be provided by the City. Gmuer said that water retention would be underground and due to the length of the alley, water could be retained for up to two back-to-back hurricanes.

In other business, the City of Newberry annexed four properties on July 11, 2022, and as required by law, the City’s Comprehensive Plan’s (CPA) future land use map must be amended. Alachua County’s land use classification and Newberry’s (less than or equal to one dwelling unit per five acres) for all four properties are identical.

The first application was for 22.75 +/- acres owned by Joshua P. and Tracie A. Blackford. The property is located on the west side of the intersection of Northwest County Road 235 and Northwest 46th Avenue.

The next application was for 4.35 +/- acres owned by Clifton A. and Shari D. Brown. The property is located on the west side of Northwest 32nd Avenue.

An application for 20.68 +/- acres owned by Richard Marion Fowler II was also approved. The property is located on the southwest corner of West Newberry Road/State Road 26 and Southwest 266th Street.

The last application was for 40 +/- acres owned by Martin and Martin (20 acres) and Todd and Lori Martin (20 acres). The property is located on the east side of Northwest 298th Street (County Line) in the southwest quadrant of Section 19, Township 17 East, Range 9 South.

Once the CPAs were approved, the Commission approved changing the zoning from Alachua County Agricultural to City of Newberry Agriculture.

The Commission also approved soliciting for a company to provide Construction Manager at Risk services for the construction of the changes to City Hall. The Construction Manager at Risk specializes in this type of project construction and reviews plans and orders items for the project in advance to forestall delivery delays of required items. Air conditioners and other large ticket items may take as long as one to one-and-a-half years to obtain given supply chain delays. The cost would for this service is expected to be one percent of construction costs or $60,000 - $70,000.

In other City business, several informational announcements were made. A proclamation calling for a regular election on April 11 for mayor and two city commission seats was read into the record. All three positions will serve two-year terms.

The City of Newberry has received FMEA’s 2022 Restoring Communities Award for assistance provided by Florida’s municipal electric utilities in helping to restore power to communities in emergency situations.

The Florida Department of State has designated Newberry Main Street Organization as the January 2023 Florida Main Street Program of the Month.

A State of the City address will be provided along with a Taste of Newberry event at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 16.

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