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Thursday, May 26, 2022

If you head east on Northeast 39th Street just beyond the Lamplighter Mobile Home Park, you’ll find a group of folks that live in a state of industry.

A barbed wire fence runs along a section of road to keep the 10 goats that roam Alfred Dickerson Sr.’s property from wandering off.

Dickerson and his wife, Jane, live in the rural 4,000-square-foot house they built, surrounded by about seven other homes and the New Beginnings Church of God by Faith.

Not much has changed there since they moved in, but not by choice. The current zoning laws prohibit any new additions because, technically, people shouldn’t live there.

The county designated that land as a “heavy industrial zone,” meant for businesses like large storage facilities, concrete plants and smoke-stack-laden mills.

The Alachua County Planning Commission unanimously approved a measure Wednesday to rezone that area as residential.

This will allow the homeowners to build on their land without getting charged fees. Up until now, there was a fee of several hundred dollars whenever someone wanted to build onto their property because of the zoning issue, said Harvey Budd, chair of the commission.

“The fee is several hundred dollars,” he said. “And any kind of fee is expensive.”

Budd said he wasn’t sure how the area ended up with the issue.

He said at some point in the 1970s, the noise from the airport influenced the decision to zone the area unfit for residents. He said airplanes were louder back then.

“It was really just a mistake to eventually force people out of their homes,” Budd said. “In hindsight, it was a really bad decision -- whoever made it -- because now we’ve got these people who can’t add to their homes.”

The county got word that there was a problem in February when Dickerson spoke at the County Commission meeting about not being allowed to build on his property.

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The measure will go under final approval from the County Commission, possibly on Nov. 27.

Then, it will be sent to the State Planning Agency, Budd said.

“I don’t anticipate that the state will raise any concerns,” Chumley said.

Chumley said the actual rezoning might not take effect until January 2013, but people will be free to build as they please without having to go through extra hassle and fees.

“I’m looking down the road for my grandchildren,” Dickerson said. “I don’t want to leave them 20 acres with only one home on it.”

Contact Alex Catalano at acatalano@alligator.org.

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