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NEWBERRY ‒ On May 24 the City of Newberry held a Special Commission meeting followed by a Board of Adjustment hearing at 7 p.m.

Barbara Boyd, CPA and Partner at Purvis, Gray, Inc., the firm that conducted the audit for the year ending Sept. 30, 2021, reviewed the auditing process and delivered an Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. She termed their opinion of the City’s records as “clean” and said there were no material weaknesses or significant deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting.

Following her overview of the audit and a list of positive findings, she pointed out that two material audit adjustments were made by the City. She remarked that there was something that “broke down in the control process which meant that those errors weren’t identified ahead of time.” She suggested that management go back and review these processes and see what can be done differently to make sure that doesn’t happen again and that these items are caught before the next audit.

Finance Director Dallas Lee said the City has hired a forensic accountant to help identify some issues that occurred years ago that have plagued the accounting process. He said they have looked into it, but cannot identify where the issue is based, and so have not been able to correct it.

Following the audit presentation, Commissioners approved a request by JBPro, acting as agent for M3 Avalon Woods, for final plat approval on Phase 1B of the development. This phase is located on the east side of U.S. Highway 27/State Road 45, adjacent to the Easton Newberry Sports Complex and consists of 49 lots.

Planning and Economic Development Director Bryan Thomas said this is the second sub-phase in the Avalon Woods Development. He reported that the plat had been reviewed by the City Surveyor and was revised accordingly. To obtain final plat approval the developer has to provide a surety agreement, which the City Attorney must approve.

Unfortunately, the only person that can provide that agreement has COVID and is stranded in another country. He is unable to come back and provide the agreement until he’s well and is allowed to leave.

Thomas checked with the City Attorney prior to the hearing and was told that the Commission is allowed to approve the plat on the condition that a surety device will be provided to the City in the near future. “Approval allows the developer to pull residential building permits while infrastructure is under construction,” Thomas said.

Commissioner Mark Clark made a motion to approve the final plat for Phase 1B with the stipulation that the surety device is provided to the City soon. Commissioner Tim Marden seconded the motion and the item passed unanimously.

An item added to the agenda was the appointment of a liaison to the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council to attend meetings. Following discussion, Commissioner Tony Mazon moved to appoint Commissioner Rick Coleman and appoint the City Clerk to act as his proxy to attend the meetings. Marden seconded the motion, which passed in a 4-1 vote with Commissioner Monty Farnsworth casting the dissenting vote.

With no further business before the Commission the meeting was adjourned.

Board of Adjustment

During the Board of Adjustment meeting Board members took part in two quasi-judicial public hearings.

The Board first considered an application for site and development plan approval presented by Kimley-Horn, acting as agent for (Carolina Holding, Inc.) CHI-Newberry, LLC. The company proposes to build a shopping center plaza on approximately 9.37 +/- acres located at 101 N.W. 242nd Street in Newberry. The property is currently in the Commercial Automotive “CA” Zoning District. The plan calls for space for a grocery store and one other tenant.

Board members unanimously approved the application with the stipulation that delivery trucks are not permitted to exit the property onto State Road 26/Newberry Road. Instead, they must exit onto County Road 235. The applicant agreed to post signs on egress points leading to SR 26 redirecting trucks to the CR 235 exit.

The second application was for site and development plan approval to allow construction of a 3,000 square foot area pole barn on a portion of the Alachua County Agriculture and Equestrian Center. Normally, permitting is not required to build a pole barn on agricultural zoned property. However, the Agricultural and Equestrian Event Center is a planned development.

Board members unanimously approved the application. The pole barn is to be used to protect emergency rescue equipment from the elements.

With no further business before the Board, the meeting was adjourned.

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