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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ A hot button issue that has come before the High Springs City Commission on numerous occasions was addressed again during the Oct. 13 meeting, which turned into a back and forth between two city commissioners and the City Attorney. Ordinance 2022-13, which would implement an ordinance governing murals in High Springs, was heard by the Commission on first reading.

The ordinance had been heard by the Planning and Zoning Board at their last meeting and was transmitted with their recommendation for Commission approval.

However, on Oct. 13, City Commissioner Linda Jones was troubled to find that a few changes had been made by the City Attorney to clarify the section on Definitions. In addition, she pointed out an editing error relating to the removal of the term “content neutral” from the ordinance.

City Attorney Scott Walker acknowledged the editing error, saying that the way the ordinance read it was unclear what “content neutral” was referring to. Walker said to avoid confusion, he removed the terminology. As far as the definitions were concerned, he said he sought to clarify the definitions.

Walker acknowledged that the changes were made after the Planning and Zoning Board’s review.

Commissioner Katherine Weitz pushed back against the ordinance by taking issue with the omission of terminology, which earlier had been voted on and approved by the Commission to be included in the ordinance, had not been included. Weitz’s claim related to the requirement that one mural permit at a time be applied for, voted on and completed prior to the City accepting another mural permit.

Walker responded that the addition of a limitation of one application at a time would have no rational basis and therefore would be challenged as restrictive. He used the analogy that the City does not restrict building permits to one permit application at a time and cannot support using that terminology in reference to mural applications.

Jones moved and Weitz seconded a motion to add the terminology back into the ordinance and send it back to the Planning and Zoning Board for their review a second time. The motion failed 2 - 3 with Mayor Byran Williams, Vice-Chair Gloria James and Commissioner Ross Ambrose casting the dissenting votes.

Commissioner Ambrose made a motion to send the ordinance back to the Planning and Zoning Board with the changes the City Attorney had made after the Board’s earlier review and recommendation to the Commission. The motion passed unanimously.

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GAINESVILLE ‒ The annual Friends of the Library Fall Book Sale is the largest book sale of its kind in Florida. This year the sale will take place from Saturday, Oct. 22 through Wednesday, Oct. 26 at the FOL Bookhouse located at 430 N. Main Street in Gainesville.

Patrons will be able to browse through more than 500,000 items for sale. Most of the items will range in price from $0.25 to $5. The Collectors Corner, which includes first edition books, signed works, and a large selection of Florida-related materials, will have some items priced well over $100. The Collectors Corner is only open the first four days of event. On the fifth and final day of the sale, all items will be 10 cents.

As is tradition, a bagpiper will play some traditional Scottish tunes Saturday morning to open the sale. Profits from the sale support the Alachua County Library District and community literacy projects throughout the county.

Don’t forget to bring bags or boxes to carry home purchased material. The FOL does provide boxes, but they run out quickly. The FOL asks that patrons do not bring shopping carts on the first day of the sale, because space is very limited. Special exceptions for individuals with wheelchairs will be made by FOL volunteers.

Cash, checks and credit cards are accepted for payment. In consideration of the volume of patrons on certain days of the sale and because of space constraints, FOL volunteers will limit the number of patrons allowed into the building at one time. Inside the building people are encouraged to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Visit the FOL website for more details. To learn more about volunteer opportunities, contact P.J. with FOL at 352-375-1676 or find out more information at the website www.folacld.org.

2022 Fall Book Sale hours are:

  • Saturday, Oct. 22, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 23, 12-6 p.m.
  • Monday, Oct. 24, 12-6 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 25, 12- 6 p.m. – All items in the general collection are half price.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 26, 12-6 p.m. – All items are 10 cents.

The Spring Book Sale is scheduled for April 22-26, 2023.

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NEWBERRY – Despite citizen complaints, the Newberry City Commission on Oct. 10 approved 4-1 to rezone Eden’s Garden subdivision to Planned Residential Development (PRD). Approval of this change has been a long time coming as neighbors railed against development of the triangle-shaped 6.93 +/- acres fearing overcrowding and congestion. Commissioner Tim Marden casting the lone dissenting vote.

The property is located northeast of the Newberry Oaks subdivision and has a future land use designation of Residential Low Density up to four units per acre. No change to the future land use category is proposed.

Due to Duke Energy overhead transmission lines running parallel to the Newberry Oaks subdivision, utilizing the required lot sizes of the existing RSF-2 zoning district of 10,000 square feet each viability of developing the site. The owners proposed reduced minimum lot sizes of 7,500 square feet and minimum lot width of 60 feet within the PRD zoning designation and a total of 12 detached single-family dwelling units.

“The PRD zoning district allows the owners to take of advantage of unique lot configurations in order to make the site developable that would otherwise not be possible due to the Duke Energy easement and the current RSF-2 zoning district,” said Newberry Principal Planner Jean-Paul Perez.

At the Aug. 22 meeting, the City Commission approved this item on first reading conditioned on establishing the eastern connection, which would have reduced the number of lots to 10. However, the property owners maintained that reduction would make the development unfeasible.

In preparation for the Oct. 10 meeting, the property owners failed to provide an updated application with the reduction of units and related capacity demands for City services and infrastructure. Instead, property owners Joel and Sophia Lancaster’s agent, JBPro, Inc. engineer Chris Potts, presented figures showing that establishing connectivity would funnel more traffic onto the Newberry Oaks subdivision roads.

Potts said the Newberry Oaks subdivision roads had been built at a time when lower requirements for construction were in place and that increased traffic on the subdivision roads, which would be likely if connectivity was created, would mean those roads would fail sooner than they would normally.

Municipal potable water and sewer services are available to the site and connection to these services will be required. The City has confirmed capacity exists for this development. The City of Newberry Public Works Department noted that utility connection points and required roadway and site improvements will be evaluated at time of submittal of the site development plan.

Avalon Woods

In other business, the Commission unanimously approved on first reading a Developer’s Agreement for 26.59 acres for Phase 2 of the Avalon Woods Mixed Use Development.

The property is located to the east of US Highway 27/State Road 45 and on the north side of Northwest 16th Avenue. The proposed population density of Phase 2 is approximately 10 persons per acre, with a building density of four per acre, or a proposed 106 single-family residential units.

Developer Agreement conditions require that the City will be sole provider of potable water, reuse water and sanitary sewer service to the development. The developer agrees to extend potable water and sanitary sewer lines to service the property. If the City requires oversizing of the lines to serve other properties, the difference in cost will be the City’s responsibility. The agreement will remain in effect until Dec. 31, 2037 unless terminated or extended by agreement of both the City and the developer.

A statement will be made part of recorded Home Owner Association documents that the development is located next to a regional park with ball fields and other recreational uses from which lighting and noise may affect neighboring properties.

A second public hearing will be held by the Commission on Oct. 24.

Wastewater Plant Loan Application

The Commission unanimously approved a resolution that revenues from the City’s wastewater treatment plant are to be pledged toward the repayment of a $1,770,720 loan, plus 2 percent loan service fee excluding capitalized interest, from the State Revolving Fund for the design of the Newberry wastewater treatment facilities.

In August 2022, the City of Newberry was placed on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s (FDEP) Clean Water Priority List for Design of the City’s Wastewater Facility Improvements and Upgrades. As part of the FDEP Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) process, the City is required to submit a loan application package to the program in order to obtain an agreement for clean water design funds. Required to be included in that application package is a resolution which pledges repayment of the loan and interest with subsequent revenues.

In other City business, Resolution 2022-71 was approved allowing alcoholic beverages to be sold at the Easton Newberry Sports Complex on Saturday, Oct. 15, at a fall festival being produced by Greenfield Preschool West. The event will take place between 5 – 8 p.m.

In other matters, the Commission offered condolences to the families of recently deceased Jimbo Calvin Nipper, a retired City employee, and Linda Hodge Woodcock, who was a member of the Planning and Zoning Board.

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ALACHUA ‒ Police officers from both the Alachua and High Springs Police departments converged at the Alachua McDonalds restaurant on Oct. 5. The early morning gathering wasn’t the result of a disturbance, no crime had been committed, and they weren't serving up tickets. They were there to celebrate the annual event known as Coffee with a Cop.

The event is part of a nationwide program that helps police officers interact with the citizens they protect and build better communications with the community. Typical encounters between the police and citizens happen when they are called for assistance or pulled over by a patrol officer. These interactions are often stressful and confrontational, which puts the officers in a situation where he or she is seen as an authority figure, and not as a fellow human being. The idea behind the program is to allow an environment where the public and the police officers can interact over a cup of coffee on a personal level and where the public can ask any questions they may have about the department or policies.

The program was started in 2011 in Hawthorne, California, by the local police department. At the time they were trying to restructure their department to a more community-oriented model where the officers worked within the community, so there was a familiarity between officers and the people they protected. As they considered ways of building community trust, it was suggested that maybe a simple idea like sitting down at a local coffee house could allow officers to interact in a more casual way with the citizens It could also have the benefit of putting a human face on the person behind the badge.

Several years ago, the Alachua McDonalds learned about the program and approached the Alachua Police Department to see if they would be interested in partnering and hosting Coffee with a Cop. The event has happened every year since, except when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the event was canceled in 2020 and 2021.

The Alachua Police Department revived the annual get together this year. Officers, including High Springs Chief Antione Sheppard, chatted with customers, discussing current issues and learning about each other.

“COVID has disrupted many events, including this one, but we want to bring it back,” said Sheppard. “Positive interaction with our community is important and we want to keep people aware that the police force is there for them.”

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ALACHUA ‒ Albert Odarius Trevell Darling, 35, was arrested on Sept. 29 after allegedly fleeing a traffic stop at high speed through a residential neighborhood in Alachua.

After an Alachua Police Department (APD) officer tried to conduct a traffic stop at about 6:45 p.m. in the 15300 block of Northwest 134th Terrace, Darling allegedly fled, drivinag “with wanton disregard for the public’s safety.”

APD reports that Darling was passing cars by driving off the road and narrowly missing both cars and private property. The APD officer reported that Darling reached 90 mph in 25 or 30 mph zones in a neighborhood known to have heavy pedestrian foot traffic. Darling was eventually stopped and arrested.

Darling has been charged with fleeing police with disregard for the safety of persons or property. He has seven prior felony convictions and has served two state prison terms, with his most recent release in 2017. Darling is being held on $100,000 bail.

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ALACHUA ‒ One person has been sent to Shands Hospital for trauma treatment after an early Wednesday morning accident in Alachua.

At 5:20 a.m., crews from Alachua County Fire Rescue were dispatched to a report of a vehicle accident with entrapment at A-1 Towing located at 14515 Peggy Road in Alachua.

Crews arrived on scene to find a single vehicle that had gone through the chain link fence and came to rest on its side, inside of the A-1 Towing property. The severely damaged vehicle was entwined in the severed fencing and lodged between stored vehicles at the tow yard.

Alachua Police report that they had just clocked the vehicle driving at a very high rate of speed. Crews stabilized the vehicle and cut the roof removing the driver. The driver was the only person in the vehicle and was transported to Shands as a trauma alert.

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GAINESVILLE ‒ A Newberry firm has placed fifth in the 2022 Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention competition as well as claiming the People’s Choice award: Newberry based Sustainable Landfill Solutions LLC, received an award for its RO BOX – A Modular On-site Landfill Leachate Treatment System, treating dangerous landfill runoff.

Tied for fifth place, along with Sustainable Landfill Solutions, is Polymer Solutions Inc., Atlanta, for its Transient, Self-Immolative Polymers, a plastic that decomposes quickly into recyclable materials.

The winning 2022 Cade Prize went to NEPTUNYA Ocean Power of Boca Raton for developing OCTOPODZ, a technology that unlocks renewable energy.

Octopodz’s new offshore wind turbine design drastically lowers energy costs through reduced weight and a floating design that eliminates the need for a separate foundation substructure. The invention could dramatically increase renewable energy adoption by power companies and other energy consumers.

Other Cade Prize winners are:

Second place: Ambulero, Inc., of Miami for a gene therapy for rare vascular diseases with the potential to prevent limb and digit loss.

Third place: Ilika Geospatial, Orlando, for Earth Observation Indices, transforming raw satellite data into simple metrics to track drought, crop health, and fire risk.

Fourth place: SG Endocrine Research, LLC, Athens, GA, for a nanoparticle for non-surgical spaying and neutering that is intravenously administered to pets.

“We’re inspired by both the high-caliber and record number of submissions this year,” said Richard Miles, Cade Prize Committee Chair, and son-in-law of Dr. Robert Cade, the lead inventor of Gatorade, after whom the Cade Prize is named. “We’re looking for the next big invention and are excited to celebrate innovation through the Cade Prize.”

Winners were announced Oct. 6 at an awards ceremony in Gainesville. They will share $67,000 in cash prizes. The two teams that tied for fifth place will each receive $2,000 of in-kind legal services.

The Cade Prize draws innovators from research universities and the private sector with groundbreaking, early-stage ideas before they reach the marketplace. Often, these life-changing ideas take years to materialize and become successful.

Beginning as a Florida competition, the Cade Prize now includes Georgia and Alabama, with plans for further expansion.

The Cade Prize is sponsored by Scott R. MacKenzie, Florida Trend, Modern Luxury, the Community Foundation of North Central Florida, James Moore Certified Public Accountants and Consultants, and Saliwanchik, Lloyd & Eisenschenk. Visit cademuseum.org/cadeprize to learn more.

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