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Friday, June 21, 2024

Development proposal causes controversy

A proposed development near Gainesville Regional Airport continued to cause controversy Monday night at a City Commission meeting.

East Gainesville Development Partners, headed by its petitioner Ronald Carpenter, has asked the city to rezone land near the airport for residential and commercial use in its development.

Though some were in favor of the development, others protested against the developers, East Gainesville Development Partners, before the commission heard the group's proposal.

The land, located at 2100 NE 39th Ave., surrounds the Ironwood Golf Course and includes 90 acres of Gainesville wetlands and part of the Murphree Wellfield.

Developers want to change from an area that is reserved for industrial, commercial and single-family use to a multipurpose planned use district.

This will allow developers to build up to 1,500 units, where at least one resident must have at least 55,500 assisted living units, 100,000 square feet of office space and 100,000 square feet of commercial and retail space, according to the meeting agenda.

The Rev. Milford Griner, president of the Alachua County Ministerial Alliance, said that as a resident of East Gainesville, he believes the area is being overlooked for developments.

"This would be a boom to East Gainesville," Griner said. "With the Wal-Mart coming in, this would only make things better."

Danielle Emenhiser, director of community political affairs with Student Government, said students should be aware of all sides of the development debate.

It's her job to ensure UF's student body stays informed about issues affecting the city.

"I want students to see what goes on outside the campus borders," Emenhiser said. "There's so much going on in this community that they need to be aware of."

The city planning board has advised the City Commission to deny the developers' first petition to change the industrial land located close to the airport to the Planned Use District category, but wants the commission to approve the other petitions to change the single-family and recreation land to planned use.

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Dean Mimms, a Gainesville city employee, informed the commission about the environmental issues and potential noise problems if the commission approved all the zone changes.

He said 359 acres of the property are in areas where residents would be affected by the noise levels.

"Our consultant has advised us that future residents are likely to be surprised by the noise level," Mimms said. "Complaints for compensation can be expected."

Ted Baldwin, the aviation consultant, went on to say residents of the development would be likely to find the exposure unacceptable and highly annoying.

Baldwin said he did not take actual noise readings from the airport; he went off the numbers given to him by the city and the airport.

Mimms also talked to Mark Garland, an environmental reviewer.

Garland said the area up for rezoning had been listed as one of the top three locations in the city that should be preserved.

"This proposal doesn't address the fact that the city is supposed to be protecting this land," Baldwin said.

The commission will make its final decision today at 3 p.m.

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