Alachua County Commissioners Make Two Big Decisions
The Alachua County Commission moved forward with two proposals that will affect the county's future tonight.
The first was unanimous approval of the Multi-modal Transportation Mitigation Program, which has been in the works for years. The program will integrate alternative transportation like bicycle and buses into land planning and future development. It will also require developers to pay a fee for their project's impact on transportation in the county.
County staff says it will cost less than half of what traditional plans would require. Alachua County Concurrency and Impact Fee Manager Jonathan Paul said, "They're places where again people can walk, bike, ride transit...you have coffee shops next to residential, next to a place of work, next to a retail shop. So it's really gonna usher in a new period and a new development pattern in Alachua County."
Then the meeting turned to what the 80 plus attendees were most interested in: adding conservation lands to a protected registry. Three weeks ago, the commission voted to put 3 of 9 properties acquired through Alachua County Forever and Wild Spaces Public Places onto the registry.
Tonight residents came out to support adding the remaining six, because they say voters meant "forever" when they voted to permanently protect these conservation properties.
Alachua Conservation Trust Executive Director Richard Hutchinson said, "Once lands are voted on by four out of the five county commissioners, they can't be sold, swapped or have their use changed without it going back to the voters. And this is to truly put the word "forever" in Alachua County Forever."
After hours of discussion and public comment, commissioners unanimously voted to add 2 of the 6 parcels: Sweetwater Branch and Watermelon Pond. The other 4 properties will be researched to determine if right- of- ways and transportation facilities could be excluded, while adding the majority of the land to the registry.
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