Newberry’s Planning and Zoning Board approved plans on Monday for a zipline park and residential neighborhood with 12 commercial parcels along State Road 26.
Both projects will continue to the city commission for the next step of approval.
On the first item, developer Karl Spain presented a site plan for the proposed Zipline at Haile Quarry located off County Road 235, and the plan represents a detailed version of the zipline concept approved in May 2022.
The park will use the former limestone quarry on the spot as a feature and wants to include nine rides and a 1,000-square-foot welcome center. Trails will wind around the quarry to take visitors to different ziplines.
Spain said the plan is to create Florida’s longest zipline—the Dragon.
Spain said all the trees and brush removed will be chipped to make the trails, along with more wood ships brought in. He added that the whole property will be five-foot, chain-link fenced and have lights and cameras installed.
The board approved the site plan 4-0, and after city commission approval, the next step will be building permits.
The other project includes 150,000 square feet of commercial property along with 350 single-family homes on 128 acres. The board unanimously approved the land use and zoning changes requested.
“Newberry is craving for more commercial,” Chair Naim Erched said at the meeting.
Two years ago, the city approved the site for a larger retirement-styled facility, but the land reverted to agriculture after no final plan was filled with the city. Now, the applicant has returned with a new plan.
The conversation revolved around the historic structure on the site and the timeline for bringing in businesses compared to residential units.
For the commercial side, Gerry Dedenbach, planner for the applicant, said the spot is attractive since Publix has announced a store on the other side of SR 26. He said the applicant works primarily in commercial development and is focused on that aspect.
In the approved motion, the board added a clause that requires the developer to install the infrastructure for the 12 commercial plats before it can build more than 175 of the homes.
Dedenbach said he anticipates the business spots will fill up before the residential phases ramp up. According to the presentation, the site plans to build 50 houses per year starting in 2025.
For the historic home, the board and Dedenbach bounced around ideas for keeping the home and giving it a purpose within the planned community.
Dedenbach said the space is too small for a community center with shared space, a pool and other amenities. However, he said the spot could serve community groups like a garden club and other small groups.
Members also discussed bringing the building up to code and renting it as part of the community. Dedenbach said the home would need significant investment to bring up to code and ensure accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Mayor Jordan Marlowe said if the new residents fail to see a use and to take responsibility, the problem may end up before the city in 10 years. He said the community will need to finance taking care of the structure, including insurance, and that will come through homeowners’ association fees.
The board also discussed splitting the lot with the historic home away from the new subdivision. Dedenbach said that might be the easiest option. He said he would discuss the possibility with the owner and return with possibilities.
If the home was split off, the owner could open the property up for interested parties to pitch ideas.
The 350-home development and commercial space will return to the city commission on April 24 for a first reading of the land use and zoning changes.