Gainesville’s City Plan Board approved a land use and zoning request on Thursday for the 300 Club off NW 12th Avenue with a full crowd of neighbors to speak on both sides of the issue. A total of 229 residents signed a letter of opposition while 133 residents signed a letter of support.
The 300 Club began in 1960 and subsequently received an incorrect conservation zoning, according to backup material. The staff report says the zoning caused no problems and went unnoticed until the club decided to make expansions and the city denied the plans because of the conservation zoning.
The club currently has one entrance through the Libby Heights and Skyline Heights neighborhoods. Planned future expansion would open a second entrance from NW 38th Street.
Dozens of residents showed up in person to speak. In Libby Heights and Skyline Heights, residents wanted a second entrance to shift some traffic from the club off neighborhood streets. Residents off NW 38th Street opposed the change and subsequent second entrance.
According to the staff report, the club does not currently have a timeline or funds for the entrance. But the land use change to recreation and new planned development zoning would allow it.
According to a letter of opposition, residents along NW 38th Street fear additional traffic on their road that connects NW 8th Avenue with NW 16th Avenue along with the elimination of the wooded area that serves as a buffer.
“We believe that the risks of approving this zoning change would not be offset by sufficient benefits and that it does not meet city criteria for land use change,” the letter says.
The group also argues that the conservation zoning was placed by the city on purpose in the 1980s in order to prevent the club from outgrowing the area and that the new recreation land use is incompatible with the surrounding properties.
Residents in Libby Heights and Skyline Heights said they don’t expect the second entrance to absorb 100% of the traffic from the 300 Club, but the letter said it would help calm the neighborhood streets. The city installed speed humps in the 1990s and reduced the speed to 25 mph three years ago.
"Since cutting through our neighborhood is the only way vehicles can access The 300 Club, the traffic and speeding problems and related safety concerns through [Libby Heights and Skyline Heights] has been chronic,” the letter said.
Plus, the letter in support says that NW 38th Street is meant as a collector road and to carry higher traffic between two major Gainesville avenues.
The letter of support also argues that the second entrance could help reduce traffic speed on the road as cars slow to turn in and out of the 300 Club.
The plan board voted unanimously to change the land use and then approved the subsequent planned development.
Board member Stephanie Sutton told residents that the planned development zoning allows the city to place restrictions on the landowner and protect surrounding neighborhoods.
Restrictions on the 300 Club’s zoning limit it to two entrances, three-story building height, buffers on the property edge, and three acres of impervious surface.