Proposed amendments to the county’s Comprehensive Plan are first considered by the Planning Commission, a citizen advisory board appointed by the Alachua County Commission, before going to the County Commission. After public hearings in November, the Planning Commission over-rode staff objections and voted 4-2 to recommend approval to the County Commission. The staff had recommended DENIAL. The circumstances surrounding the Planning Commission hearings are now raising serious questions about the fairness of the process.
The chair of the Planning Commission is Jennifer Springfield, a local attorney who has been hired by Plum Creek to assist with their development plans. Plum Creek has now annexed a part of their land into the city of Hawthorne, where it will be exempt from the county’s environmental safeguards. Springfield did not recuse herself from the planning commission vote, nor did she disclose her relationship with Plum Creek before voting to approve their application.