BOCC takes up meat plant, impact fees 

Alachua County Manager Michele Lieberman
Alachua County Manager Michele Lieberman discussed the three interlocal agreements with the city of Newberry on Tuesday.
File photo by Suzette Cook

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) directed staff at a Tuesday special meeting to move forward with three interlocal agreements with the city of Newberry and gave direction on new impact fee structures.  

The draft agreements would allow the county to use approximately 25 acres at the Newberry Environmental Park for a solid waste collection center, household hazardous waste center and a meat processing facility.  

County Manager Michele Lieberman said the final agreement will switch wording so that the county can build the facilities itself or contract the work to a third party. The BOCC had no comment on any other wording within the draft agreements, but Commissioner Ken Cornell reiterated his opposition to the county owning a meat processing facility.  

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He said the county should still look for off-ramps or ways to finance the facility without owning it, like through a grant for a third party to own.  

“I would like us to move off of funding the ownership and building of the meat processing facility and move to a discussion about do we want to facilitate perhaps a grant for either a public-private partnership with a private provider or do we want to provide a potential grant for the city of Newberry, for them to take the lead on this,” Cornell said.  

The drafts agreements and next decision on the meat processing facility will come before the BOCC on July 10 and 11.  

On July 10, the BOCC will hold a joint meeting with the city of Newberry. The city bought the 93 acres for the Environmental Park and plans to use the land for its regional wastewater facility, and Mayor Jordan Marlowe has said the city wants the county to locate its projects on the site.  

On July 11, the BOCC will hold a regular meeting and vote to move forward with a request for proposals, hoping to find an operator for the meat processing facility.  

The situation would be similar to the new Alachua County Sports and Events Center at Celebration Pointe. The BOCC owns the building, contributed to the financing and sought state funds, but a third-party contractor runs the day-to-day operations.  

Both the city and county have funded environmental and traffic studies for the site. Just like any other development project, if the road study finds a need for improvements to the adjoining roads, Alachua County and the city of Newberry would fund construction.  

Under the draft agreements, Newberry is paying $25,000 toward the road study, funding the majority of the environmental study, providing shovel-ready lots for the county projects and changing all land use and zoning requirements as needed.  

The BOCC will also provide $250,000 for a training drill tower for fire departments from across the county to use, including Alachua County Fire Rescue. Currently, departments use a facility off Waldo Road for the training.  

The majority of Tuesday’s meeting revolved around impact fees, the fire rescue fee, parks fee and transportations fee.  

The BOCC gave directions to look at increasing the residential square footage ceiling on the fire assessment. The current assessment, implemented in 2006, placed a cap of 2,600 square feet, meaning any area above that number didn’t get included in the fire assessment.  

A county consultant said the new data shows that the BOCC could increase that number to 3,500 square feet or even 4,000 square feet. He said the BOCC needs a ceiling because houses eventually max out of occupants and impact on fire resources.  

The commissioners also discussed whether to implement a higher transportation impact fee for new construction outside the BOCC’s urban cluster. The commission said it wants to incentivize growth within the urban cluster boundaries to promote density and efficient services, but commissioners struggled with the potential $11,000 extra that houses would pay outside the urban cluster.  

The commission is scheduled for a September final vote on impact fees, one times payments imposed on new construction.  

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Waiting for a grant to fund the meat plant might take too long. If the county wants to cultivate a new industry it should put its own money up front first. Then sell to a co-op of farmer/ranchers later. Similar to other food industries.

Rogers Corner

Sad. Build more businesses, raise taxes and fees, but nothing for a primary responsibility; ROADS.


County has NO business owning a slaughterhouse. Let ranchers form their OWN co-op! Believe me, taxpayers Will be liable for extra expenses. And note that this slaughterhouse would be Surrounded by a slew of toxics and pollutants: sewage sludge composting facility, hazardous waste facility, wastewater spray field, regional wastewater plant. Yum!