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NEWBERRY ‒ The Newberry City Commission has approved on first reading an ordinance relating to the City’s Overlay District, which has been a focus of their attention since the beginning of the year.

The Overlay District refers to the main corridors leading into Newberry, which are State Road 26/Newberry Road and U.S. Highway 27/41. The Overlay District will set forth design guidelines to promote attractive properties that are functional, but are also are aesthetically pleasing. Citizens participating in earlier workshops stressed that they want to keep the small-town charm of the community.

The Overlay District is designed to help maintain a balance between retaining the quaintness of the community while also welcoming business and residential development.

Elements of the ordinance deal with tasteful signage, attractive landscaping/screening along roadways, tasteful and effective signage, architectural character, land use and building form, and positioning of parking areas and building designs that minimize the visibility of loading docks and parking areas.

In approving the measure, commissioners were clear they didn’t want to prohibit creatively-designed businesses that might normally not be considered attractive, such as car washes, storage facilities and auto repair shops. They also were mindful that placement of certain types of businesses that might be disturbing to neighbors like dog kennels or loud machine shops should be limited in residential areas.

Ultimately, Commissioners approved the ordinance on first reading and asked that suggested changes be incorporated into the ordinance for review prior to second reading.

The Commission also approved on first reading Ordinance 2022-23/Application CPA 22-02 which will, when approved on second reading, change the Future Land Use Map from Agriculture to Planned Development on 5.75 +/- acres (Parcel No. 02544-003-006). This is an application by Christopher Potts, P.E., agent for Norfleet Properties, LLLP, Owners.

This property, which is vacant agricultural land, is located immediately north of the Newberry Town Center Planned Development - south of Southwest 15th Avenue, east of State Road 45.

Members of the Planning and Zoning Board considered this application at their May 2 meeting and voted unanimously to recommend approval to the City Commission.

A quasi-judicial public hearing was held on first reading of Ordinance 2022-24/LDR 22-04, on the same 5.75 +/- acres listed above. This property will be added to the acreage to the Country Way at Newberry Town Square Planned Development, amending the Preliminary Master Plan and the associated Development Order and Developer’s Agreement.

Although this ordinance was also approved by the City Commission on first reading, it is contingent upon approval of the change in the Future Land Use Map on second reading at an upcoming meeting.

In quasi-judicial public hearings, Commissioners approved four ordinances on first reading to voluntarily annex six parcels of land into the city.

Joshua P. and Tracie A. Blackford, owners of Parcel No. 01859-001-000 consisting of 1.25 acres +/- and Parcel No. 01806-001-000 consisting of 21.50 +/- acres petitioned to voluntary annex their property located on the west side of Northwest County Road 235 at the terminus of Northwest 46th Avenue, west of the Gatorback Cycle Park.

Richard Marion Fowler III, owner of Parcel No. 01928-005-000, consisting of 20.68 +/- acres, petitioned to voluntary annex his property located on the southwest corner of West Newberry Road/SR 26 and Southwest 226th Street.

Todd and Lori Martin, owners of Parcel No. 01834-008-000, consisting of 20 +/- acres, and Parcel No. 01834-012-000, consisting of 20 +/- acres, petitioned to voluntary annex their properties located on the east side of Northwest 298th Street (county line), approximately 1,200 feet north of Northwest 32nd Avenue.

Clifton A. and Shari D. Brown, owners of Parcel No. 01887-050-000, consisting of 4.35 +/- acres, petitioned to voluntary their property located on the east side of Northwest 32nd Avenue, approximately 2,500 feet east of Northwest 298th Street (county line).

In other business, the Commission authorized City Manager Mike New to submit a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) application to the state of Florida to apply for a matching neighborhood revitalization grant for paving streets in the downtown area. The City maintains a number of unpaved roads in its downtown district and CDBF funding for this type of project is typically for $700,000 in improvements.

The application process is competitive and funding matches are beneficial. Applications are awarded points in a number of areas. One area to receive points is by establishing a Citizen’s Advisory Task Force (CATF), as defined in State Statute. As part of this grant application process, Commissioners approved Resolution 2022-24 to create a CATF. The CATF will review projects and recommend a project for consideration to the City Commission.

The City received applications from a number or residents interested in serving on the CAFT. Board members appointed are Pastor Jess Carter, Pastor Lewis King, Linda Woodcock, Peggy Loy and Catherine Allen. All members will serve three-year terms to end Dec. 31, 2025.

In other business, the Commission authorized the city manager to sign a permitting and project management software proposal a cost of $ 69,833. Over the last several months staff has been evaluating new software programs for the Building, Planning and Code Enforcement departments and selected SmartGov for the city’s government permitting and project management. Of the cost, approximately $59,000 is installation, migration of data out of ADG, workflow customization for four departments, system integration and staff training, while $11,000 is for the first-year license agreement. After year one, the annual license renewal fee is approximately $15,000, with a total commitment period of three years. The initial setup cost will be spread approximately evenly between the current and next fiscal years.

Commissioners also authorized the city manager to execute a contract with Cumberland International Truck for $158,670 to purchase a new 2024 International HV Dump Truck. As part of the vote, they also authorized him to approve cost adjustments due to inflation for up to 10 percent from original purchase price.

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