Following a recess and the elections, the Gainesville City Commission will reconvene for a regular meeting on Thursday.
The meeting will spread a full agenda across three sessions starting at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.
The evening session will include final approval of a 1,778-acre development in north Gainesville. The project received an initial greenlight in October.
But first, on the morning consent agenda, the commission will vote on legislative priorities. The city will send the priorities to its state representatives for advocacy in Tallahassee.
The list includes:
- $600,000 for Gainesville Fire Rescue to add a Mobile Command and Heavy Rescue unit. The purchases would allow enhanced capabilities as a Regional Hazmat Team for the North Central Florida region.
- $500,000 to buy land that would allow the extension of SW 47th Avenue, connecting Williston Road and SW 34th Street. The new route between the two state roads would decrease congestion, according to the city.
- $500,000 to use Medication-assisted treatment for the Gainesville community’s behavioral health needs.
- $115,000 for law enforcement drone equipment.
- Encouraging the Florida Department of Transportation to fund redesigns of University Avenue and 13th Street. The redesigns will aim to increase pedestrian safety crossing from UF to housing.
The list also has general items like supporting efforts to defend Home Rule, increase cybersecurity and infrastructure funding and affordable housing.
Still on the consent agenda, Gainesville will establish a community land trust with Bright Community Trust Inc.
The commission will also award a contract to C.H. Johnson Consulting, Inc. to conduct a sports complex feasibility and pro forma study of Citizens Field, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Recreation Center and Dwight H. Hunter Pool. The study will continue city analysis of investing in a sports complex at 8th Avenue and Waldo Road.
Off the consent agenda, the commission will finalize two ordinances approved with split 4-3 votes in October. Commissioners Desmon Duncan-Walker, Cynthia Chestnut and Harvey Ward dissented on both.
The first would eliminate parking requirements for developments. Currently, the city requires a certain number of parking spaces for each new development.
City staff said in October that the parking minimum is often arbitrary, and Mayor Lauren Poe said striking the requirement will allow businesses to right-size their parking.
The second item, currently the last item for the evening session, will change the land use and zoning designation for 1,778 acres in north Gainesville. Currently owned by the Weyerhaeuser Company, the development plans to turn the land into housing.
The land lies almost exactly 6.6 miles straight north of the UF campus, split on both sides of State Road 121. The property sits close to multiple creeks and a moderate to high recharge area for the St. Johns Water Management District.
Because of the distance from the city center and water concerns, Ward voted against the effort. But other city commissioners said the city must act and can’t force the land to remain empty.
The city denied a previous application for the site in December 2019, prompting two lawsuits.
Other items on Thursday’s agenda include using $460,000 in ConnectFree revenue for Woodland Park, a 96-unit affordable housing project. The commission will also discuss filling the city auditor position.