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Saturday, December 03, 2022

Alachua County Commission asks city to delay vote on elimination of single-family zoning

Opinions are split on the city and county level

Gainesville’s contentious single-family zoning elimination faces opposition again — this time from members of the Alachua County Commission.

In a Aug. 26 letter from County Commission Chair Marihelen Wheeler addressed to Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, a request to delay a second voting on the proposal was proposed on behalf of the County Commission.

The ordinance, which won its first vote 4-3 Aug. 5, would allow the construction of duplexes, triplexes and quadruplexes in single unit neighborhoods. A second vote is required before the ordinance can go into motion.

The letter expressed concerns about whether the city has evidence Gainesville’s infrastructure could handle increased activity caused by additional housing.

“In the absence of appropriate data and analysis, the potential impacts of the proposed amendment on Alachua County cannot be determined,” the letter read. 

Wheeler said the delay was suggested after continuous public outcry. Opponents of the change created a petition against the proposal that garnered more than 2,700 signatures as of Thursday evening, and around 90 residents voiced concerns at city meetings prior to the first vote.

“I don’t mind problem-solving,” Wheeler said. “But at the same time when the public is so resistant to it, we have to listen.”

Those in favor of the ordinance see the elimination of single-family zoning as a solution to the city’s affordable housing crisis, providing more options for people unable to purchase a home.

City Commissioner David Arreola, who voted in favor of the ordinance, said removing single-family zoning would be similar to enactments made elsewhere in the county.

Arreola referenced the county’s detached dwelling unit legislation, which allows households within certain districts to have an additional unit, as long as it meets certain size limits and other standards.

“It just makes me wonder if the county commissioners actually know their own zoning, and whether or not they even know what they’re talking about on this issue,” Arreola said.

The issue was a key focus during August’s primary election, with some candidates campaigning on the platform of opposing the bill.

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Harvey Ward, a city commissioner running in the mayoral runoff race, has been vocal about his dissent and said he will continue to oppose the proposal.

“I voted against it [the proposal] before; I’ll vote against it again,” Ward said. “If I’m elected for mayor, I will work to change it back to its original status after the first of the year.”

The second vote has not been publicly scheduled as of Thursday. If delayed, the three newly elected commissioners and a new mayor may participate in the second vote.

Contact Aidan at abush@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @aidandisto.

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Aidan Bush

Aidan Bush is a second-year journalism major and the city and county commission reporter for the Alligator. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Citrus County Chronicle. When not writing, he enjoys creating videos, water activities and spending time with his friends.


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