Homeowners living adjacent to the former West End Golf Club property were notified this week of a Dec. 9 meeting to discuss the rezoning of half of the green space to low density residential.
Gainesville-based engineering firm JBPro mailed the letter on Nov. 19. It states that a neighborhood workshop will take place at 6 p.m. on Dec. 9 at Abiding Savior Lutheran Church in Gainesville.
According to the letter, the purpose of the meeting is "to discuss an application for a proposed Comprehensive Plan text amendment and Future Land Use Map change and a rezoning" of the two parcels that make up 75 recreational acres zoned for Planned Development (PD).
The current future land use designation on the parcels is recreation.
The letter states that the application "is to change approximately 38.0 (+/-) of the property's future land use designation from recreation to Low Density Residential (1 to 4 units/acre), propose Comprehensive Plan text language related to the two parcels and to amend the existing PD zoning related to the two parcels."
According to Gerald Brewington, Alachua County senior planner for growth management, "the neighborhood meeting is the first step in the process and occurs prior to the application being received by staff."
Brewington said the county's application cycle deadline is the last Monday of each month.
"So if the applicant intends to submit, I would anticipate it happening at the end of December at the earliest," he said.
Paul Hornby, president of the West End Community Alliance for Recreation and Education (WECARE), said he thinks the developer and JBPro have a new strategy this time because they did not provide a detailed rendering of the latest proposal, just a parcel map that shows the current status of the property.
"It shows the two parcels without any schematic," Hornby said Tuesday in a phone interview.
Hornby said Brewington informed him that an applicant does not have to offer a detailed plan ahead of the required neighborhood workshop.
Hornby said he was preparing to get the word out about the meeting "and begin steps to mobilize major attendance at this workshop."
The initial plan for the property proposed by JBrown Professional Group on behalf of developer Sayed Moukhtara involved building a 487-unit development and possible hotel and commercial space.
But residents at West End and neighboring communities joined forces to oppose it and held multiple protests along Newberry Road to draw attention to their concerns about increased traffic and loss of green space. Activists have also turned out in force at Alachua County Commission meetings.
In late July the applicant withdrew the plans and met again in August with residents to propose a less dense development. The potential developer went back to the drawing board and came up with a proposal that included 139 residential lots and recreational space for nine holes of golf or a park.
The new Tara Club West End conceptual master plan presented on Aug. 11 had two options, both with the same 139 residential lots. But one choice included open areas and amenities and the other mapped out a nine-hole golf course around the perimeter of the parcel. The price point for the homes would have ranged from $400,000 to $800,000.
In an October meeting of the Alachua County Land Conservation Board, the defunct golf course property was considered for possible acquisition. While the board members voted against the idea, they did agree to write a letter of recommendation that shows they support the space retaining its recreation zoning status.