ALACHUA – Nearly two years after property owners sought to annex into the City of Alachua the former battery plant on U.S. Highway 441, commissioners gave the nod to four of those parcels on March 26.
Alachua City Commissioners approved the annexation of about 10 acres of land broken up into four tax parcels at the former Gates Energy Products manufacturing site.
The parcels annexed Monday had been withdrawn for consideration more than a year ago by their owners who then rescinded that withdrawal in recent months, and asked that the city move forward with annexation proceedings.
Three other adjacent parcels of land that remained up for annexation have been delayed indefinitely since 2010 when city officials raised concerns over liability on the site due to possible contamination in the past.
Although owners of Phoenix Commercial Park have maintained that there is no existing contamination on their property, city officials have said they want to ensure the city does not incur a legal liability if contamination is later found.
About half of the nearly 150 acres is reported to be contaminated and cleanup efforts there date back to the 1970s and still continue.
The portion of the property now known as Phoenix Commercial Park is said not to be contaminated, but is designated as a “brownfield site” because of the perception of contamination.
Lisa Albertson, one of the representatives for Phoenix Commercial Park, told commissioners in 2010 that her company’s property isn’t contaminated.
“The brownfield designation is on property that is not contaminated. It has gone through a phase one evaluation and passed with flying colors.
“[Phoenix Commercial Park] is one of those brownfield assigned designations because we are next to a parcel that does have contamination and that’s how we got the brownfield designation; we are not contaminated,” Albertson said during that 2010 meeting.
Lithium Nickel Asset Holding Company, Inc. (LNAH) owned one of the largest parcels in the 150-acre site but requested to withdraw their annexation more than a year ago, city officials said.
A representative from LNAH said in 2010 that cleanup efforts on their site have been underway for years and the contaminating substance is “naturally attenuating,” and expected to be fully remediated within the next seven years.
The nearly 150-acre site along U.S. Highway 441 has historically been operated as a battery manufacturing facility.
The vote on March 26 finalizes the annexation of only about 10 acres of the property. The Phoenix Commercial Park annexation remains on hold.
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