The High Springs Plan Board approved the Bridlewood planned development 4-1 at its regular meeting on Tuesday, sending the 2,000-unit subdivision to the city commission.
The commission is scheduled to take up the item at its Oct. 13 meeting for a first reading.
The Bridlewood development has been in the works for more than a year, working in conjunction with city staff to tailor the plan for High Springs. The approval by the plan board forms the first step in a potential 15-to-20-year process to finish all the phases.
Chris Potts, director of civil engineering for JBPro, said the number of homes built each year would vary on market conditions. But at the moment, an estimate would be 100 to 150 houses per year. That number would be 100 units higher just a year and a half ago, Potts said.
The plan board took up the item at its last meeting but voted to postpone a decision until all five members were present. The city commission has also seen the plans for Bridlewood at a July presentation, and some commissioners had concerns about density.
Community members also questioned whether such a large addition should be allowed. But plats on the land dating back to 1925 already give the developer the ability to install around 1,787 units.
Potts presented a letter from Susan Trevarthen, an attorney brought on by the landowner. The letter, directed to city staff and dated Sept. 26, outlined the requirements that staff must abide by and referenced several previous legal cases that helped form state law.
"To be clear, my client's goal is development of the project, not litigation,” Trevarthen said in the letter. “We ask, however, that the legal principles above be kept front of mind through the process."
Trevarthen said she was retained to provide information on the landowner’s rights because some members of the community and plan board “remain uncomfortable with the project as proposed.”
The proposal calls for 1,432 single family homes on 70-, 80- and 100-foot lots along with 250 units multifamily units and 200 age-restricted units. The development would include 22% open space —from parks to dry stormwater basins — and a 25-foot buffer around the entire perimeter.
The development also set aside land in the northeast portion to give to the school district for a possible future school and an area in the northwest for a fire station.
"The suggestion raised by certain members of the community that the project should be denied or conditioned upon a greater reduction in the number of proposed units is thus not warranted by the facts,” Trevarthen said. “Those facts demonstrate that the density of the development is consistent with existing rights but is planned in a manner that creates a community consistent with modern development standards and with surrounding properties."
The development still needs approval from the city commission to start the platting process, and plans could tweak during those stages. Many community concerns about road impacts will also be addressed in later stages, as required by state law.
Once a roadway study is completed, the developer must pay for offsite road impacts caused by the new development. The roadway study will include local, county and state roads.
After full development, the site plans to have entrances at State Road 45, 239th Terrace, 174th Avenue and 222nd Street.
“Staff will not recommend a plat be approved if we are not going to have adequate water, sewer, roadway capacity and if we do not have plans for how we're even going to handle our park system,” City Manager Ashley Stathatos said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Board Member John Walsh voted against approval, echoing comments from the last meeting. He said the development is in the wrong place, too close to the city, and lacks infrastructure.
“It’s a bittersweet decision because the city’s done a phenomenal job,” Walsh said. “It looks like a great plan; it looks like a great place.”
You can find a recording of the full meeting on YouTube and all backup documents at the city of High Springs’ website.