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NEWBERRY ‒ On July 11, the City of Newberry approved annexation of nearly 88 acres into the City. Approved was a petition by owners Joshua P. and Tracie A. Blackford for 22.75 acres located on the west side of Northwest County Road 235 at the terminus of Northwest 46th Avenue, west of the Gatorback Cycle Park. Also approved was a petition by Richard Marion Fowler III to annex 20.68 acres located on the southwest corner of West Newberry Road/State Road 26 and Southwest 226th Street. Todd and Lori Martin petitioned for annexation of two parcels totaling 40 acres located on the east side of Northwest 298th Street (county line), approximately 1,200 feet north of Northwest 32nd Avenue. And Clifton A. and Shari D. Brown petitioned for 4.35 acres located on the east side of Northwest 32nd Avenue, approximately 2,500 feet east of Northwest 298th Street to be annexed into the City.

In other business, the Commission voted 4-1 on first reading to change the Future Land Use Map classification on 220 acres from Agriculture to Planned Development for Tanglewood Properties of Gainesville, LLC. The property is located on the south side of West Newberry Road/State Road 26, between Southwest 218th Street and Southwest 202nd Street. Commissioner Tony Mazon casting the dissenting vote.

After lengthy discussion, the Commission also approved rezoning the same property from Agricultural (A) to Planned Development (PD). Final approval is contingent upon the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity approving changing the Future Land Use Map Classification.

In other unanimous actions, the Commission approved a rezoning, a re-platt, a final plat and an amendment to the City’s Land Development Regulations. The Commission approved 5-0 on second and final reading to rezone 1.69 acres from Residential, Single Family to Planned Development in the Economic Development Overlay District and partially located within the City’s Historic District. The proposed development is an infill project that seeks to add 14 cottage- style single family townhomes to the site, while leaving the existing single-family house as-is. A central alley will bisect the block and automotive access to each lot will be provided from the alley. Commissioners also approved a variance from the requirement that 10 percent of the development be devoted to common open space, which is not practical due to the size limitations of the parcel. The site encompasses a full block bounded by Southwest 1st Avenue to the north, Southwest 257th Street to the east, Southwest 2nd Avenue to the south and Southwest 258th Street to the west.

Commissioners unanimously approved a request by Brown and Shapphard/Bison Construction LLC to re-plat Bartley Lane, Lot 10, which consists of 0.14 acre, to remedy a building setback line encroachment on the front yard building setback line. The encroachment was discovered by the title insurance company while researching the property in advance of the sale of the newly constructed single-family residence.

Commissioners also unanimously approved a request by Michael Steinberg for approval of the Dylan’s Grove Phase 2A Final Plat consisting of 39.9 acres located south of Southwest 15th Avenue and west of Southwest 188th Street. Phase 2A is part of the Dylan’s Grove Planned Rural Residential Development. This approval is conditioned upon receipt of fully executed surety device approved by the City Attorney.

The Commission unanimously approved amending the City’s Land Development Regulations to allow Small-Scale Rural Subdivisions as a Special Exception within the Agricultural Zoning District.

In other action, Commissioners approved an application to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity for a Small Cities Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) following a second public hearing. The application is for the Neighborhood Revitalization (NR) category. In a related matter, Commissioners authorized submittal of a Florida Jobs Growth Grant Fund application for public infrastructure funding in the Newberry Ag-tech Innovation Park.

Parks and Recreation Director Travis Parker reviewed the 2022 Babe Ruth softball season, highlighting the Newberry 10 and under team that won the Babe Ruth State Tournament for their age division on June 27.

Mayor Jordan Marlowe read a resolution into the record celebrating Park and Recreation Month in Newberry identified as “We Rise Up for Parks and Recreation!” month.

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NEWBERRY ‒ Newberry residents turned out to raise concern about a zoning change from Residential, Single-Family RSF-2 to Planned Residential Development (PRD) on a 6.95-acre property that could be developed into townhouses and single-family dwelling units. The City of Newberry Planning and Zoning Board met on July 5 to consider three applications, with the Eden’s Garden application receiving the greatest citizen opposition.

JBPro’s Director of Engineering Chris Potts addressed the Board on behalf of property owners Joel and Sophie Lancaster. The property, known as Eden’s Garden, is located northeast of the Newberry Oaks subdivision.

The current Residential Low Density future land use permits up to four units per acre, while the potential density with the zoning change is 28 units. However, due to existing overhead Duke Energy transmission lines that run parallel to the abutting limits of the Newberry Oaks subdivision, an area of approximately 2.31 acres, maximizing the potential development is not possible and 23 units are proposed.

Development will be a combination of 11 detached and 12 attached townhouse single-family dwelling units. Overall density will be approximately 3.31 dwelling units per acre, which is less than the potential density within the RSF-2 zoning district.

The PRD zoning district allows the owners to take advantage of unique lot configurations in order to make the site developable which would otherwise not be possible within the existing RSF-2 zoning district, which requires a gross lot area of 10,000 square feet or approximately 0.25 of an acre.

City of Newberry staff confirmed utility capacity exists for this development and the Public Works Department had no objection to the zoning change. “Staff finds the request consistent with the City’s Land Development Regulations and the Comprehensive Plan and recommend the Planning and Zoning Board forward a request to approve Ordinance 2022-35/LDR 22-14 to the Commission,” said Perez.

Several citizens from the neighboring Newberry Oaks Subdivision were on hand to protest the action. Residents voiced concerns about using the roadways in their subdivision to access the proposed development. However, as the roadways are public streets and not owned by Newberry Oaks Subdivision, access to proposed development can’t be limited. Other objections included construction noise, reduced property values for existing homes, problems with water drainage, traffic concerns, potential for sinkholes and mining blasting impacting the new subdivision as well as development disrupting the endangered animal species on the existing property.

Some nearby residents said they were okay with single-family homes but didn’t want tall three-story condos. Potts responded by saying they could eliminate the three attached homes.

Board Members voted 4-1 to recommend approval of Ordinance 2022-35/LDR 22-14 to the Commission for first reading at the July 25 meeting.

Application Denied

In other Board business, the Planning and Zoning Board denied an application for Bass Farms, Inc., to change the zoning on approximately 302.53 acres from Agricultural (A) to Planned Rural Residential Development (PRRD).

The application was submitted by JBPro, acting as agent for Bass Farms, Inc., Trevor Bass, owner. The site is located between at the southeast corner of Southwest 46th Avenue and Southwest 282nd Avenue. The property has an Agriculture future land use designation in which PRRD zoning is permitted.

Bass is proposing 60 single-family dwelling units on existing crop and cattle land. In accordance with the PRRD land development regulations, the owner is setting aside 80 percent of the site, approximately 242 acres, which will remain undeveloped. The residential portion will be developed into one-acre lots. The overall density proposed is 0.198 dwelling units per acre, below the 0.20 dwelling units per acre or one unit per five acres allowed in the Agricultural land use designation and zoning district.

“It is not expected the proposed level of development will negatively impact the current capacity or require mitigation for the additional road trips generated,” Perez said.

Vice-Chair Donald Long made a motion, with Chair Naim Erched providing the second, to deny recommending the application to the Commission. The motion to deny was approved in a 3-2 vote with Board Members Linda Woodcock and Annie Polo casting the dissenting votes.

Woodcock and Polo said they cast dissenting votes because they believed the applicant met the requirements of the existing ordinance and that some of the items discussed during the meeting were not on topic.

Increased Density

In other action, the Board approved a property zoning change on 48.2 acres, reducing the 10,000 square foot minimum lot size to 5,000 square feet. Acting as agent for property owner Pat Post, eda consultants, inc., requested to amend the City’s Official Zoning Atlas by changing the zoning from Residential (Mixed) Single-Family/Mobile Home (RSF/MH-2) to Planned Residential Development (PRD).

The property is located on the east side of Northwest 266th Street, between Northwest 8th Lane and Northwest 3rd Place and has a future land use designation of Residential Low-Density allowing for up to four residential units per acre. Although no change to the future land use category was proposed, under the current future land use designation of Residential Low Density, the maximum density possible is 193 dwelling units.

With the PRD zoning, the owner can establish his own lot sizes and setbacks. At this time the developer is proposing a lot size of 5,000 square feet consisting of 180 single-family dwellings. Approximately 16.2 acres, roughly 33 percent of the site, is being dedicated for stormwater retention and open space.

With the reduction of lot size requirements, 35 units more will be created than the estimated development potential under current zoning regulations. City of Newberry Principal Planner Jean-Paul Perez Perez said, “Prior to the issuance of a site development plan approval, the owner must obtain an approved Public School Student Generation Calculation Form demonstrating capacity exists for the additional students generated by the new dwelling units, or mitigate any impacts on level of service to be coordinated with the School Board.””

City Planning Staff recommended approval of the application and the Planning and Zoning Board voted to recommend approval of Ordinance 2022-34/LDR 22-13 with conditions to the City Commission for first reading at the July 25 meeting. The conditions were that the applicant will work with City staff to finalize the parameters of the development order, correct a scrivener’s error and incorporate the requirement that the developer work with the School Board to provide for the necessary concurrency for this project.

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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ Louis Bryan Bass, 19, was arrested on Saturday, July 2, and charged with aggravated child abuse and child neglect with great bodily harm after his three-month-old son was transported to the emergency room with a brain bleed and a bruise on his torso.

First responders at the scene reported that they found the baby unresponsive and that he had signs of a traumatic brain injury.

Bass had been caring for the baby in the hours preceding the 911 call. When deputies told him that the injuries were consistent with shaking a baby, Bass reportedly said he was stressed and that the baby cried a lot, but he denied shaking him.

Bass is being held on $400,000 bond.

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ALACHUA ‒ Brianna Denise Thomas, 19, Gainesville, and Shaniya Nycole Wilson, 18, Alachua, were arrested on Thursday, July 14, following a fight in the 14200 block of Northwest 156th Place in Alachua.

At about 4:30 p.m., Alachua Police Department officers responded to reports of an altercation involving multiple parties. The victim, who reportedly recorded much of the incident on video, reported that Wilson, Thomas and others approached her vehicle “aggressively.”

Multiple witnesses reported that Wilson was holding a knife and that there were many bystanders nearby, including children. One witness reported that once it became known that the police had been called, Wilson ran away from the scene, dropped the knife, then came back and continued the dispute unarmed. Officers searched the area and reportedly found the knife nearby.

Thomas allegedly beat on the window of the vehicle while making threats to “beat” the occupant. She was charged with simple assault and released on signature bond.

Wilson was charged with aggravated assault and was released on her own recognizance.

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ALACHUA COUNTY — Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton is notifying voters about changes in the upcoming 2022 Primary Election. A visible change is that envelopes for vote-by-mail ballots in the 2022 Primary Election will not be pink as they have been in previous elections due to a shortage of colored dye. The top and left borders of the envelopes will now have pink markings.

Vote-by-mail ballots will be mailed to domestic voters with an existing request on file by July 14. Overseas ballots will be mailed to voters with an existing request on file by July 8.

The deadline to request a vote-by-mail ballot for the 2022 Primary Election is 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13. Vote-by-mail ballots can be requested online, in person, or by phone, fax, mail or email. Until the deadline, vote-by-mail ballot requests will be filled as they are received. Any registered voter can sign up to vote by mail.

The Supervisor of Elections Office must receive domestic vote-by-mail ballots by 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Aug. 23. Voters who vote by mail are encouraged to mail their completed ballot well in advance of Election Day to give the ballot ample time to arrive at the Supervisor of Elections Office before the deadline. Voters should also verify that their voter information and signature are up to date before they return their ballot if they have moved or their signature has changed.

Any voter who does not sign their vote-by-mail ballot or whose signature on the vote-by-mail ballot certificate does not match the signature in their voter record will be contacted by the Supervisor of Elections Office and provided the opportunity to correct their ballot. Per Florida Statutes, voters have until 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 25 to complete an affidavit to correct a vote-by-mail ballot that does not have a signature or has a signature that does not match the voter's signature on file.

Voters can deliver completed vote-by-mail ballots to the Supervisor of Elections Office, located in Gainesville at 515 N. Main Street during normal business hours — 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Voters can also use the Secure Ballot Intake Station located outside of the office’s main entrance. The Secure Ballot Intake Station will be available at the Supervisor of Elections Office Aug. 8 through Aug. 22 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Election Day, Aug. 23, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Additionally, Secure Ballot Intake Stations will be available at all seven early voting locations from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the early voting period of Aug. 13 – Aug. 20. Voters have until 7 p.m. on Election Day to return their vote-by-mail ballot to the Supervisor of Elections Office.

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ALACHUA ‒ Summer is here and school is out, leaving children with limited activities and social interaction with other children—and parents with few options to watch their children on work days.

For some parents it becomes a choice between working to earn an income or staying with their children when school is out. To help parents and offer a variety of activities and programs to children, the City of Alachua's Recreation and Culture Department, in partnership with the Children’s Trust of Alachua County, is providing eight weeks of summer camp June 6 through July 29.

The camps are held at the Legacy Park Recreation Complex, which offers an indoor area with basketball courts, a stage and classrooms for movies and learning activities as well as a concession stand. Outside offers an all-inclusive playground, sports fields for soccer, baseball and football and park benches for outdoor meals.

The camp offers an opportunity for children to make their summer break from school an “adventure” to be remembered and also to burn off all that energy that youngsters seem to have an endless supply of, and hopefully build a few new friendships along the way. Camp activities include sports games, music and dance, various games, playground time, artwork, splash park, swimming, movies, weekly field trips, and more.

The camps runs every weekday and over 180 elementary and middle school students signed up for both half-day and full-day sessions. The full day program runs from 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Breakfast, lunch and snacks are part of the package in compliance with the Alachua County School Board's summer nutrition guidelines.

Although the program costs $400 for the entire course, the Children’s Trust of Alachua County sponsored 100 full and partial scholarships based on household income and need, so that everyone had an opportunity to participate in the program.

The camp is an example of Alachua’s focus on providing resources, opportunities and activities that benefit local residents and provide opportunities for youth.

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MONTEOCHA ‒ The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) is currently investigating a single vehicle traffic crash which resulted in one fatality. On July 10 at approximately 10 a.m., units from Alachua County Fire Rescue, LaCrosse Fire Rescue, ShandsCair, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Highway Patrol responded to a single vehicle accident in the Monteocha area of Alachua County.

A red Mitsubishi Eclipse sedan was traveling north on Northeast 21st Street near Northeast 181st Place, when for reasons unknown, the vehicle traveled off the east shoulder of the roadway at a high rate of speed and struck a large oak tree after reportedly rolling over. The vehicle suffered significant structural damage and came to a rest after impact. Both vehicle occupants were ejected during the crash.

FHP reports that a 33-year-old female was pronounced dead on scene and the second occupant, a 23-year-old female, was transported via helicopter with life threatening injuries. Names of the individuals, both Gainesville residents, have not been released. Neither occupant was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash. The cause of the accident and which occupant was driving the vehicle at the time of the crash is under investigation by the FHP.

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