NEWBERRY ‒ The Newberry City Commission has reconsidered its March 13 decision regarding impact fees. Following input from area developers, the City modified the April 10 meeting agenda from second reading of an ordinance to establish impact fees to a discussion item instead.

The proposed impact fees were based on a study commissioned by Benesch, a Tampa based firm. At the March 13 meeting, the Commission reviewed impact fee recommendations based on projected growth along with fees charged by other cities and Alachua County in two categories—Public Buildings (i.e., fire stations, public works departments, city halls) and Multi-Modal Transportation (i.e., design and construction of road improvements).

At that time, the Commission approved increasing fees on new construction the first year based on 80 percent of Benesch’s recommended amounts with an increase of 10 percent more per year for the following two years. Based on those figures, Newberry would gradually achieve fees commensurate with Benesch’s suggested fee schedule. The fees would not be applied to any development that had already received construction plan approval by the City. The purpose of impact fees is to pay for future growth as a one-time fee collected for new construction.

At the April 10 meeting, Commissioners who were not in attendance at the earlier meeting as well as developers, argued that the proposed fees would add substantial increased cost to commercial construction, something the City has been attempting to cultivate, that commercial development may be slowed by implementing the fees.

At the April 10 meeting, the Commission dictated several changes to the proposed ordinance. Commercial construction would be assessed nothing the first year. The fees will be increased by 5 percent of the study’s recommended amount every year for the next four years. Residential construction would be assessed 70 percent of the recommended amount the first year and 10 percent for each of the subsequent three years. The Commission is expected to take up the matter again at their next meeting scheduled for April 24.

In other City business, Commissioners adopted a resolution approving a Water Facilities Plan, which will now be sent to the state for review and acceptance as part of the State Revolving Fund (SRF) Loan program. If approved, the SRF Loan program will enable the project to move toward the design phase.

The Water System Facilities Plan evaluated alternatives for providing additional water storage capacity and determined that construction of a 500,000-gallon pedosphere-type water storage tank is the most cost effective approach. The cost is $5.75 million. Currently, the City has a 150,000-gallon and 300,000-gallon tank. The new tank is planned to be located on State Road 26, approximately 2.5 miles east of downtown, as part of the Tanglewood Development.

Commissioners unanimously adopted a resolution approving an application for submission of a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) in the Neighborhood Revitalization Category. The application was submitted to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) on July 28, 2022. If awarded, the CDBG grant will provide $700,000 in administration and construction funding for the City's infrastructure needs.

The City is proposing to pave 2,260 linear feet of existing streets, which include Northwest 4th Avenue from Northwest 255th Street to Northwest 257th Street (400 feet), Northwest 5th Avenue from Northwest 255th Street to Northwest 257th Street (410 feet) and Northwest 255th Street from Northwest 2nd Avenue to Northwest 6th Avenue (1,450 feet). The City also proposes to construct an estimated 2,260 linear feet of new sidewalks adjacent to the streets being paved and will provide 25 percent local match funding towards the project.

Plans are moving forward for a property to be developed as a commercial center toward the front of the site and to provide additional boat and RV storage to the south, with possibly mini storage between. The Commission approved on first reading, a request to amend the Official Zoning Atlas of the City’s Land Development Regulations on approximately 8.28 +/- acres from Commercial General (CG) to Commercial Intensive (CI) on property located on the south side of West Newberry Road/State Road 26 between Southwest 218th Street and Southwest 226th Street. The application was presented by eda Consultants, Inc., agent for Tibbetts Land Holdings, LLC, owners.

In other City business, the Commission approved on first reading assigning the mayor to serve as the Chair of the Board of Adjustment. The commission also approved on first reading changes to the terms of office for the Planning and Zoning and Historic Architectural Review Boards to mirror the same schedule as the City Commission (two-year terms) and also to designate the mayor as the Chair of both boards.

Mayor Jordan Marlowe, Commissioner Group IV Tim Marden and Commissioner Group V Tony Mazon will be sworn into their next terms on April 24. All candidates for the April 11, 2023, election ran unopposed.

City Manager Mike New announced that plans are underway for a joint meeting with the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners and Newberry City Commissioners in June at Newberry City Hall.

The next City Commission meeting is scheduled for April 24 at 7 p.m.

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