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ALACHUA COUNTY ‒ The Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office has mailed just over 45,000 vote-by-mail ballots for the 2022 General Election to Alachua County voters. The ballots, which went out Oct. 4, were delayed due to Hurricane Ian. Overseas ballots were mailed on Thursday, Sept. 22.

Vote-By-Mail Deadlines

Voters who requested a vote-by-mail ballot should expect to receive their ballot in the next week. Ballots will arrive in envelopes with pink markings. Any voter who has not received their vote-by-mail ballot by Monday, Oct. 17 should contact the Supervisor of Elections Office at 352-374-5252 or by email at votebymail@alachuacounty.us.

The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot for the 2022 General Election is 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29. Any registered voter can sign up to vote by mail. Vote-by-mail ballots can be requested online, in person, by phone, fax, mail or email. Until the deadline, vote-by-mail ballot requests will be processed as they are received.

The Supervisor of Elections Office must receive domestic vote-by-mail ballots by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8. Voters who vote by mail are encouraged to mail their completed ballot at least one week before Election Day to give the ballot ample time to arrive at the Supervisor of Elections Office before the deadline. Voters should also verify that their voter information and signature are up to date before they return their ballot if they have moved or their signature has changed.

Vote-By-Mail Directions

When completing and mailing their vote-by-mail ballot, voters are encouraged to completely fill in the oval next to their choice on the ballot — and to not circle or mark an “X” over the oval. If a mistake is made on the ballot, call the Supervisor of Elections Office at 352-374-5252. Be sure to sign the vote-by-mail ballot certificate envelope. Vote-by-mail ballots must be returned in the official envelope provided. Return postage is prepaid.

Any voter who does not sign their vote-by-mail ballot or whose signature on the vote-by-mail ballot certificate does not match the signature in their voter record will be contacted by the Supervisor of Elections Office and provided the opportunity to correct their ballot. Per Florida Statutes, voters have until 5 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10 to complete an affidavit to correct a vote-by-mail ballot that does not have a signature or has a signature that does not match the voter's signature on file.

Voters can deliver completed vote-by-mail ballots to the Supervisor of Elections Office, located in Gainesville at 515 N. Main Street during normal business hours — 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Voters can also use the secure ballot intake station located outside of the office’s main entrance.

The secure ballot intake station will be available at the Supervisor of Elections Office from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 24 through Nov. 7 and on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Secure ballot intake stations will be available at all seven early voting locations from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the early voting period, Oct. 24 – Nov. 5.

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ALACHUA COUNTY — The secure ballot intake station located in the parking lot of the Supervisor of Elections Office at 515 N. Main Street in Gainesville has been removed.

The Supervisory of Election’s office says this change will not impact the availability of the secure ballot intake station for voters.

A monitored secure ballot intake station will be available at the outer entrance of the Josiah T. Walls Building during the General Election early voting period of Oct. 24 – Nov. 5, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It will also be available on Nov. 6 and 7 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Election Day on Nov. 8 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Voters wishing to hand deliver their Vote-By-Mail ballot at the Supervisor of Elections Office can still do so by going to the third floor of the Josiah T. Walls Building during normal business hours, which are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information about the secure ballot intake stations and early voting, contact the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office at 352-374-5252 or visit VoteAlachua.gov

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NEWBERRY ‒ On Oct. 3, Limestone Products once again received the go ahead from the Newberry Planning and Zoning Board to allow mining activities on a property annexed into the City in June. A Special Use Permit application was presented by eda consultants, inc., agent for owners Cates & Broome, LLC and Cates and Broome Partnership, on the 124-acre retired mining property. The site is located on the east side of Northwest County Road 235, between Northwest 22nd Avenue and Northwest 46th Avenue.

Limestone Products is actively mining a portion of the site and properties south of this property under a pre-existing Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) permit. The mining operation will transition to this property once all resources have been exhausted. Over the years, residents have complained about noise from the current site. Clay Sweger, Director of Planning for eda said the work on this property would be moving northward away from residential property owners and toward agricultural property.

Mining is a permitted use within the Agricultural (A) zoning district, provided the future land use of Mining has been established and a special use permit has been approved by the City Commission. A companion to this item is the request to amend the future land use map from County Rural/Agriculture to City Mining.

Approval of the Special Use Permit was unanimous, conditioned upon the owner immediately reporting any complaints or irregularities to the City. The Board’s approval is a recommendation to the Board of Adjustment and City Commission, which will hear these items again during their Oct. 24 meeting.

850-Unit Development Draws Complaints

In other action, Newberry residents came out to the Planning and Zoning Board meeting to express their concerns about a proposed development under consideration by the Board.

In a 3-1 decision, the Board approved changing the land use and zoning on 258.3+/- acres from Agriculture and Low Density Residential to Planned Residential Development (PRD) on the proposed development, Westone. The development straddles Southwest 15th Avenue and Southwest 266th Street/County Road 337.

Concerns expressed by citizens included increased traffic, school concurrency, need for sidewalks, curbs and gutters, increased drugs and crime as the city expands, vegetative buffering requirements, possible impacts to property values and impacts to wildlife.

Representing property owners Jason, Mary, James, Connie, Paul, Tammy and Lewis Coleman and Austin, Emma and David Mattox, was JBPro’s Director of Civil Engineering Chris Potts.

Potts said development of the property consists of 850 units, which would include 260 townhouses and single-family dwellings plus open space consisting of outdoor recreation and stormwater management facilities.

Potts and City of Newberry Planner Jean-Paul Perez said a traffic study and a wildlife study would both be done. Potts added that a 10-foot vegetative buffer surrounding the property would be installed as well as a crosswalk, sidewalks and other improvements.

In response to concerns that residents in the surrounding area would be required to hook up to water and sewer once the development went in, these residents were assured that would not be the case.

Potts said the property would likely take 15 – 20 years to completely build out so there would not be a sudden influx of people immediately.

Board members voted 3-1 to recommend approval for the land use change and the rezoning to the City Commission with Board member Jessica Baker casting the dissenting vote for both items.

The Board’s approval is a recommendation to the Board of Adjustment and the City Commission, which will consider these items during the Oct. 24 City Commission meeting.


In other action, the Board unanimously approved a special exception and a Major Subdivision Preliminary Plat for property in the Agricultural (A) zoning district for a Small-Scale Rural Subdivision known as Lakota. The development is anticipated to contain 15 lots with a density of one dwelling unit per three acres. The minimum lot size is two acres with an average lot size of 2.85 acres.

The 45.53-acre site is located at 17512 S.W. 15th Avenue, northwest of the intersection of Southwest 15th Avenue and Southwest 170th Street.

Concern about emergency vehicle access and turnaround was expressed, but the Board was assured that would be addressed as part of the Construction Plan Review.

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NEWBERRY ‒ The UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office will be conducting the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Farm Tour on Friday, Nov. 4, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The tour will begin at the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office, 22712 W. Newberry Road, Newberry.

Alachua County has a large agricultural industry ranging from horticulture, beef cattle, nurseries, row crops and more. Participants will visit local nurseries, blueberry farm, cattle ranch, vegetable packing shed, perennial peanut farm and discuss best management practices and cover crops. In addition, there will be topics on Florida-Friendly Landscaping™, 4-H Youth Development and local food preparation.

Participants in the tour learn more about what is growing in Alachua County’s backyard and see what local agriculture is all about.

The tour bus leaves the UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Office at 8:30 a.m. Participants should arrive by 8:15 a.m. The registration fee is $50, which includes lunch and the bus fee.

Participants must register online at www.eventbrite.com/e/ufifas-extension-alachua-county-farm-tour-tickets-421411512177. Registration will be limited to the first 50 paid registrants. There are no refunds for the registration fee.

For more information about this program, please call 352-955-2402. Visit the Extension Office website for additional programs offered by the Extension Office.

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NEWBERRY ‒ Newberry residents may soon have a new option for upscale coffee and more as the Newberry Board of Adjustment (BOA) approved a site and development plan petition for a new drive-through café. JBrown Professional Group, Inc., agent for Preston Property Development, LLC, owner, submitted the request for approval for approximately 950 square feet of drive-through café and related site development on 1.26 +/- acres for an Elliano’s Coffee. The site is located at the southwest corner of West Newberry Road/State Road 26 and Doc Karelas Drive.

The proposed drive-through café provides drive-through windows on both the east and west façades with an approach on north and south. Site access is provided on the east from Southwest 246th Terrace. The future retail building was not included with this application and will require separate Site and Development Approval.

The building and landscaping will be developed with the anticipated standards and regulations included in the City of Newberry’s Gateway Overlay District regulations.

REO Fire Truck

BOA members also approved a Site and Development Plan application for an approximately 500-square-foot building ancillary to the City of Newberry Fire Department Building. The building is intended for storage and display of the antique 1954 REO Fire Truck and will be located at 310 N.W. 250th Street. The zoning is Commercial Intensive (CI).

The building will have a glass wall on the north façade. Additional pathways and landscaping are also proposed to improve the areas around the structure. The building will provide a new home for the vehicle as well as provide display given its historic qualities.

In approving the application, Board members asked staff to meet with the building’s architect and engineer to determine if a center column could be removed to improve visibility of the fire truck. They also requested staff consider raising the elevation of the building.

Although the basic design and styling of the chassis remained consistent, the REO Speed Wagon, which was produced by REO Motor Car Company from 1915 – 1954, was manufactured in a variety of configurations to serve as delivery, tow, dump and fire trucks, as well as hearses and ambulances. The REO Speed Wagon was designed by Ransom Eli Olds and subsequently took on the designer’s initials.

After decommissioning the fire truck by the Alachua County Fire Department, the truck was used in City parades to carry City Commissioners during various celebrations.

“This fire truck provides a connection to historical events and persons of importance to the City of Newberry and it is being preserved for its connection with the past, its craftsmanship and honors the legacy of firemen that have served the citizens of Newberry,” said City of Newberry planner Jean-Paul Perez.

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The High Springs Lions Club has a long history of helping others in need, especially during times of crisis. And this time, in the wake of Hurricane Ian, there is a personal connection as well.

On the early evening of Sept. 28, 2022 southwest Florida was decimated by Category 4 Hurricane Ian. With sustained winds up to 155 mph the storm made landfall near Fort Myers with storm surges of 12 to 18 feet creating a wall of water that that obliterated everything in its path. It also brought massive amounts of rain as it barreled across the state, exiting on the Atlantic side of Florida to continue up the coast creating more damage along the coastal areas of Georgia and the Carolinas. In the interior of Florida, rainfall across the state was staggering. In just 24 hours, automated rain gauges reported as much as 31.52 inches of rain near the Ponce Inlet community on Florida’s east coast, causing massive flooding.

A deadly combination of storm surge, rainfall and high winds left 2.6 million people without power in the state. The hardest hit areas have been described as resembling “a war zone” with destroyed and flattened buildings, cars and boats tossed from their original locations. Florida faces the grim reality that Hurricane Ian is the deadliest storm in the state since 1935 and ties for the fourth-highest landfall speed on record in Florida.

Ian’s death toll has climbed above 100 as rescue crews go door-to-door to search for survivors and help in recovery. Federal and state relief efforts are moving forward and power has been restored to all but 440,000 customers in Florida, but it will be months and possibly years before these victims can rebuild their lives. Federal and state sources can help rebuild infrastructure, but for many people, simple daily items are not available.

The hardest hit areas were the barrier islands, like Captiva, Sanibel and Pine Island, where the storm surge washed over the islands leaving little standing and destroying bridges that linked them to the mainland. People who did not evacuate were stranded without food, water, power or communications. The only access is by helicopter or boat until the bridges are rebuilt.

Lions Club member Justin Young's mother-in-law, Kimberly Teasdale, lived on Pine Island. Young desperately tried to locate her, hoping for the best. Teasdale was found, but she was stranded on the island along with others. Understanding the dire straits these individuals were in, the Lions Club sprang into action, seeking donations to help those in the area who lost everything. They approached the local Winn Dixie asking to use their parking lot as a central location for community donations. The store agreed and made food donations as well as offering discounted prices for supplies purchased with monetary donations.

Currently, the hurricane victims need food, clothing and hygiene items rather than small sums of money. For days Lions Club members have been loading donations on a large trailer to take south, and with the community’s help, the trailer is almost full. This week their first trip is scheduled to drop supplies in Fort Meyers to be taken by boat to the barrier islands.

“On this initial trip we are concentrating on daily essentials like food, hygiene and toiletry items, medical items and baby needs,” said Lion member Mark Moomaw. “These are people who have lost everything but the clothes on their backs.” Moomaw added that while the government focus is on the major things like rescues and rebuilding, just getting their daily needs met is vital for these people.

“It’s often the small things that people don't think of like pet food or can openers to go with canned food donations. We are using any cash donations to buy the items donators don’t think of,” said Moomaw. “We will continue the efforts and expand it for clothing and other items that aren’t immediately vital, but this trip will be about getting them food, water and daily items.

Moomaw says the Lions Club will continue to make these trips as long as people will donate to help those affected by the hurricane. “The needs are massive, but we are going to do our part to help,” Moomaw said.

Anyone interested in donating to help the victims can drop off donation at any time at the Lions Club located at 26900 W. U.S. Highway 27 in High Springs or call 386-454-4521 for more information.

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ALACHUA ‒ The Alachua City Commission on Sept. 26 approved the Preliminary Plat and Final PD Plan for Fletcher Trace that will allow for 472 housing units. The property is located east of CR 235, south of Pilot Forest and north of Northwest 110th Avenue. The proposed development consists of the subdivision of a ±118.2-acre property into 472 lots, with associated common areas and right-of-way.

The development as proposed will include 128 single-family attached units and 344 single family detached units. Approval was conditioned upon a 100 percent gopher tortoise survey for the property, which must be submitted with any application for a final plat and to utilize standard measures for protection for the Eastern Indigo Snake.

During the construction plan approval process associated with Phases 8, 9, and 10, a geotechnical engineer is to review any geological features identified in the geotechnical report and provide recommendations on whether or not remedial actions are required.

The Planned Development – Residential zoning designation for the property was approved by the City Commission on April 25, 2022 through Ordinance 22-10. At the Sept. 13, 2022 Planning and Zoning Board hearing, the Board voted 3-0 in favor of forwarding the application to the City Commission with a recommendation to approve.

In other business, the Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe gifted teddy bears to the Alachua Police Department. Kiwanis Club president Sue Weller and Kiwanis secretary Tom Weller presented 55 teddy bears to Alachua Police Chief Jesse Sandusky. The Kiwanis Club collected teddy bears to donate to both the High Springs and Alachua police departments so that officers can carry them in their patrol cars to help calm children they encounter in traumatic or stressful situations. A teddy bear can make a difference in the life of a child who has experienced trauma at crime scenes, accidents, domestic violence calls and other incidents. Thanking the Kiwanis Club, Chief Sandusky said the teddy bears are valuable for both police officers and children in stressful situations, providing emotional comfort to a child and helping officers work through other aspects of the crisis.

The City of Alachua is playing a visible role this year in the fight against breast cancer. About 42,000 women and 500 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer, and October is recognized every year as National Breast Cancer Awareness month. In support of the ongoing battle against breast cancer, the City of Alachua has launched its “Alachua Goes Pink!” campaign. Pink ribbons are displayed on the City’s fleet vehicles, the Alachua Police Department decals one of its traffic units and staff members wear commemorative bracelets and pins in an effort to raise awareness about the disease.

The Commission proclaimed September as American Pharmacist Month with a proclamation recognizing that pharmacists are important members of a health care team as they are well versed in medications, the effects they produce in the body, and how medications interact or interfere with each other. In addition to safely providing medicine, pharmacists offer many other services as part of their commitment to helping patients live healthier lives. Local pharmacist Dr. William Garst received the proclamation presented by the Commission.

The Commission filled two openings on the Senior Resource Advisory Board (SRAB). James (Jim) Curington and Karen Reed were each appointed to a three-year term. The SRAB is a five-member board that meets quarterly serving in an advisory role to the City Commission by providing information on issues of importance to senior citizens in the community.

In other business, the commission approved on first reading a request to amend the City of Alachua Land Development Regulations (LDRs) to allow self-service storage units as a permitted use in the Light and Warehouse Industrial (ILW) zoning district. On Sept. 13, 2022, the Planning & Zoning Board held a public hearing and voted 3-0 to send the request to the City Commission with a recommendation to approve. The City Commission is expected to consider this action on second and final reading at the Oct. 10, 2022 Commission meeting.

The Commission also approved on second and final reading a Large-Scale Comprehensive Plan Amendment (LSCPA) for a proposed development along Peggy Road. The action on the 51.7-acre property changes the zoning and land use to Planned Development, Moderate Density Residential, which would permit up to four units per acre allowing for 206 total units. The property is located south of Peggy Road and Legacy Park, north of CSX rail right-of-way, east of Interstate – 75.

In other City business, the Commission approved ratification of the 2022-23 – 2024-25 Alachua Police Department Collective Bargaining Agreement. The new agreement for take home vehicles by sworn officers permits use within or outside Alachua County but now restricts distance to 20 driving miles from the APD facility at 15000 N.W. 142nd Terrace. Historically, take home vehicle use has been restricted to Alachua County.

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