NEWBERRY – The Newberry City Commission has cleared the way for 850 homesites on 258 acres at the intersection of Southwest 15th Avenue and Southwest 266th Street. The unanimous approval by the Commission to change the property’s land use classification and zoning came at the Oct. 9 City Commission meeting.
The Commission unanimously approved on second reading a request by property owners Jason, Mary, James, Connie, Paul, Tammy and Lewis Coleman and Austin, Emma and David Mattox, for a large-scale amendment to the Future Land Use Map classification on 250 +/- acres from Agriculture to Residential Low Density. The property at the intersection of Southwest 15th Avenue and Southwest 266th Street is known as Westone. The subdivision is located within the Urban Services Area and will include 850 detached and attached single-family dwelling units.
The change in the Future Land Use Map and the rezoning request were both initially heard at the Oct. 3, 2022, Planning and Zoning Board and both were approved in a of 3-1 vote to recommend approval of both petitions to the City Commission.
At the Oct. 24, 2022, City Commission meeting, the Commission voted 4-0 to approve the land use change and the rezoning on first reading. The large-scale amendment application was forwarded to the Florida Department of Commerce. That body returned the application to the City of Newberry with comments that resulted in areas affected by the former Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) cleanup site to remain open space.
Also, a traffic impact analysis and an updated Preliminary Development Plan were provided.
The Commission unanimously approved the ordinance on second reading to rezone the same 250 +/- acres plus the additional 8.3 +/- acres from Agricultural (A) and Residential (Mixed) Single-Family/Mobile Home (RSF/MH-2) to Planned Residential Development (PRD).
The City of Newberry’s Principal Planner Jean-Paul Perez said the purpose of the PRD zoning category is to encourage flexible and creative site planning concepts, to preserve natural amenities and efficient use of land.
The 850 single-family residential units are proposed to be located on lot sizes at a minimum area of 5,000 square feet and with a minimum width of 50 feet. The townhouse lot sizes will be built on a minimum area of 2,000 square feet with a 20-foot-width.
The Commission selected six projects out of a list of 25 prepared by staff to request at the upcoming Legislative Session. City Manager Mike New said that last year the City was successful in several areas including receiving two legislative appropriations totaling $2.5 million for the wastewater treatment plant expansion and construction of an elevated water storage tank. In 2022, the legislature appropriated $2.5 million for the wastewater treatment plant expansion. In total, the Commission approved requesting six appropriations projects totaling $23.7 million in the upcoming Legislative Session that starts Jan. 9, 2024 and an additional $4 million through the Florida Jobs Growth Grant Fund.
The Commission will be requesting a $20 million appropriation for construction of a regional wastewater treatment facility in western Alachua County at an estimated cost of $55 million.
Another request will be for $1 million in funding a $5 million elevated water storage tank construction project to support an economic corridor in eastern Newberry. The City has the balance of funding necessary to complete the $5 million project.
The third request is to provide $285,000 in funding to construct a $825,000 memorial for Veterans. Newberry has funded $350,000 and is fundraising for the balance.
A fourth request is for the appropriation of $1.7 million in funding for Newberry’s electric resiliency project to provide redundancy and an underground electric circuit in the downtown district. The project estimate is $5 million with the City funding the balance through its rates and reserves.
The Commission will also request $500,000 for an emergency responder training facility in western Alachua County and a $200,000 request to construct tennis and pickleball courts.
In non-legislative appropriations, the City will be requesting through the Florida Jobs Growth Grant Fund program an additional $4 million for Phase One infrastructure in the Newberry Ag-tech Innovation Park.
Local Business Impact Estimates
In other business, the Commission approved on first reading a local business impact estimate ordinance in compliance with Florida Statutes. If enacted on second reading, the measure will require municipalities to prepare business impact estimates prior to adopting ordinances that impact business owners.
The ordinance will become effective retroactively as of Oct. 1, 2023 and is intended to make local government more transparent. Local governments are required to prepare and publish impact statements on ordinances prior to their adoption. The law increases staff’s level of effort in preparing these impact statements, which may require outside consultants.
Approval of this ordinance authorizes the City to hire a consultant and to charge for the expense, if there is a challenge to an action.
The law also provides a procedure to challenge ordinances that are adopted by local government, while also setting challenge and waiting periods.
Three items listed on the agenda were tabled until all five Commissioners could be in attendance; Commissioner Tim Marden was not at the Oct. 9 meeting. Those items included a discussion of the solid waste collection services agreement with Waste Pro, legal services provided by the city attorney and charter officer annual evaluations. These three items will be discussed at the Oct. 23 meeting.
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