NEWBERRY ‒ In a move that will bring a commercial center and storage facilities to Newberry, the City Commission on May 8 unanimously approved a rezoning application on second reading for property located on the south side of West Newberry Road/State Road 26 between Southwest 218th Street and Southwest 226th Street. The approval amends the City’s Official Zoning Atlas to change the zoning from Commercial General (CG) to Commercial Intensive (CI) zoning district on 8.28 +/- acres of land.

“Plans are for the site to be developed as a commercial center up front and additional boat and RV storage to the south, with possibly mini storage in-between,” said Planning and Economic Development Director Bryan Thomas. He explained that Commercial General is usually reserved for small scale commercial, while Commercial Intensive is usually for automotive uses.

In his recommendation to enact this change on second reading, Thomas said that the CI Zoning District is compatible with the mixture of uses in the area along State Road 26 and is consistent with the Corridor Study and community visioning indicators. This application was unanimously approved by the Planning and Zoning Board on March 6 and unanimously approved again on first reading by the City Commission on April 10.

In other City business, Thomas presented the proposed timeline for revising the Newberry Comprehensive Plan, something the Commission has been talking about reviewing for some time.

The Comprehensive Plan is the community’s expression of its vision for future growth. The Plan is intended to provide guidance from a high-level perspective, while the Land Development Regulations are the tools to implement that vision. Newberry’s Comprehensive Plan has not been thoroughly revised since 2006 and contains elements that are no longer applicable to the current environment, as well as very specific language that is more suitable to being in the Land Development Regulations.

The process will bring multiple public and Commission open houses to provide the community with ample opportunities for input. In addition to public input, the revised Plan will incorporate the recently adopted Mission, Vision, and Core Values that were developed during last year’s visioning workshops.

All workshops and meetings will take place at the Municipal Building and are scheduled to occur from 6 – 9 p.m. Public workshops and meetings will be held May 24, June 6, July 10 (provide update to the Commission) and Aug. 14 for a Commission workshop.

Upon approval by the Newberry City Commission, the Comprehensive Plan will be sent to the state for review and approval, which can take up to 45 days.

In other business, City Manager New announced that the City was awarded a $55,000 USDA Rural Business Development Grant. It will be used to fund a development business plan for the Agtech Park and also to “further develop our stakeholders to get enough momentum to get the initial round of infrastructure constructed and the first facilities, which we think will be the incubator building”.

New also reported that the City was funded for two $1 million grants for a water storage tank and for a wastewater treatment plant expansion by the Florida Legislature in the 2023 Session that ended on May 5. He said the funding “will have to go before the governor’s veto pen”.

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