Below is the conclusion and preliminary staff recommendation of the 137-page report (without exhibits), vindicating the views of Stand By Our Plan, that the request to amend the County’s Comprehensive Plan by Plum Creek should be denied. To learn more about the proposed Plum Creek development in Alachua County, visit standbyourplan.org.
To get involved, visit some of the workshops listed in the box underneath this article, and vote for Ken Cornell for County Commissioner. See the full report from the Alachua County Growth Management Commission at http://growth-management.alachua.fl.us/development_services/plumcreek/documents/EASP_Workshop_Staff_Report_8_29_14_Complete.pdf.
Staff has reviewed the Envision Alachua Sector Plan application, including the supporting data and analysis, and created this report for the County Commission workshops. Based on the evaluation of the application as submitted, staff is recommending denial of this proposed comprehensive plan amendment.
The application and accompanying backup material do not support the proposed density and intensity that would be allowed by the proposed policies. The proposed amendment does not provide for the adequate protection of natural resources. This rural area, which the application proposes for large-scale urban uses, lacks urban infrastructure or the proximity to existing urban infrastructure that would make extension of urban public services viable and efficient.
A key issue for local governments in planning for urban growth in an area is the identification and establishment of a capital improvement program identifying projects and policies needed to serve the public. These facilities include those needed for services such as potable water supply, wastewater treatment, transportation and public schools. There are no proposed policies providing commitments that any specific public facilities and services will be constructed or funded. In addition, the proposed intense urban land uses are not compatible with the surrounding rural area and lifestyle. The amendment would also render the Comprehensive Plan internally inconsistent.
Both development trends in the County and most population projections do not support the potential for full build-out of the residential uses proposed in the EASP area.
Likewise, there has been a limited demand for new industrial development, as indicated by things such as development applications and approvals for such uses, in comparison to the unbuilt land designated for Industrial uses in areas that are more suitable in terms of the full range of public facility and infrastructure capacity for such development in the adopted Comprehensive Plans of the County and its cities.
As concluded in the report submitted with the EASP application “Plum Creek, UF, and Economic Growth in the Gainesville Region”, “…over a horizon of 50 years, it makes little sense to imply anything is known with a high degree of certainty — there are too many things about the future that are crucial but unknown.”
This recognizes the possibility that the new 15.5 million square feet of industrial and other non-residential uses proposed in the EASP might not be realized. This uncertainty about the likelihood that the proposed development in the EASP area will be fully built-out, highlights the risks from a fiscal and economic perspective that would result from a partial build-out of the development program this EASP plan amendment is intended to accommodate. Such a partial build out could create a situation where new capital facilities sized and located to the meet the needs for potable water and wastewater system capacity, roads, and other public facilities and services at build-out will entail significant capital and maintenance costs, while the revenues projected based on a full build-out scenario are not realized, resulting in substantial negative fiscal and economic impacts. D