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Controversial roads in Hague vacated by city

ALACHUA – The likely construction of a Dollar General store in the Hague area of Alachua appears to be back on track despite outcries from some nearby residents. In a 4-1 vote Monday, July 8, City of Alachua commissioners approved the vacating of two roadways platted but never constructed or used on the parcels of land where the retail store would locate.

The move on Monday came as a result of a hearing on the matter at a June 24 meeting in which three commissioners opted to delay the process of removing the platted roads due to claims by some nearby residents that doing so would be illegal and that the land wasn’t even in the City of Alachua.

Located at the northwest corner of CR 237 and U.S. 441, the three parcels of land are owned by John and Kelly Freeland who have already obtained preliminary site plan approval pending the vacating of the roadways in question.

Brandon Stubbs, planner for the City of Alachua, addressed the concerns of Vice Mayor Shirley Green Brown and commissioners Gary Hardacre and Robert Wilford.

Stubbs said Stanley Street and Oak Street have never been dedicated or utilized by the city. The city has never claimed any rights to any portion of the property and had no interest in future use of the roads, which exist only as “paper roads.”

The portions of Stanley Street and Oak Street are located on John and Kelly Freeland’s property. The city will have no basis for improvement of the streets, since they serve no public purpose, he said.

Gerry Dedenbach, planning and GIS service director of Causseaux, Hewett & Walpole, Inc., said the Freelands are requesting to remove paper streets from their private property in an effort to clear their property’s title deficiency as identified by legal counsel.

According to Florida statute, the partial plat vacation will not affect the ownership or right of convenient access of persons owning other parts of the subdivision, Dedenbach said.

Some residents from the Hague area spoke against the motion on the floor and defended the historic atmosphere of Hague Cemetery, which lies across the road from the planned development. Some said they do not want to see a Dollar General in the view of the cemetery.

Lynn Coullias, a resident of Oaks at Hague, said county commissioners already vacated the streets, and it is all county land.

Coullias said the commission is “spot zoning.”

Spot zoning is the process of zoning a single parcel or area of land without regard for an overall development plan or nearby property.

Despite Coullias’ assertions, the commission did not take any zoning action on the property, but merely relinquished any claims to the platted but unconstructed roads.

Other residents were concerned with the Dollar General’s site plan that had previously been approved for the property by the city’s Planning and Zoning Board.

Mayor Gib Coerper reminded residents who spoke at Monday’s meeting that the matter before the commission was the vacating of the roads, not approval of a Dollar General store at the site.

Referring to the commission meeting, Jeannette Hinsdale, resident of Alachua, said, “What happened tonight is what should have happened at the planning and zoning meeting.”

After nearly a half hour of comments by residents, some of whom voiced their support for vacating the roads, commissioners Hardacre, Wilford and Ben Boukari, Jr. and Mayor Coerper voted to pass the partial vacating of the plat.

Boukari and Wilford defended their decisions on the basis of it being the property rights of the applicants, John and Kelly Freeland.

Vice Mayor Shirley Green Brown voted against it.

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