The city of Newberry’s planning and zoning board unanimously approved a plan to amend the city’s urban service area (USA) to follow existing property lines on Monday.
The USA is the part of the city in which development is encouraged. Outside that area, the city has reserved the land for agriculture and green spaces. The zone is intended to allow Newberry to grow responsibly at its center while preventing urban sprawl, according to Mayor Jordan Marlowe.
Currently, the USA is shaped like a circle, but Marlowe said in the meeting that this has caused some confusion.
“One of the problems with the existing line is that it’s unclear, if my land is both in and out, what does that mean?” Marlowe said.
Bryan Thomas, Newberry's director of planning and economic development, said he worked with a GIS specialist and the most logical solution they came to was a matter of majority.
If more than 50% of a property lies within the existing USA, the whole property will be incorporated into the new boundary. The same logic will be applied to properties whose majority sits outside the existing line.
This new plan adds corners to what is currently rounded, so it does expand the USA by about 5%, but Marlowe said that should not cause concern for city development spreading. He said most people are worried about the town bumping into Gainesville, but currently there is a several-mile buffer between Newberry and the closest community, Jonesville.
That buffer is the space between the borders of Alachua County’s urban service area and Newberry’s, and Marlowe said that the county’s USA contains the fast-spreading development.
“That’s the green space we’re trying to protect,” Marlowe said. “When you hear people talk about ‘Newberry is gonna hit Gainesville’ -- not if we hold this line.... But the flip side of that is we also need the county to hold their urban services line.”
In the meeting, the board also selected Donald Long and Kathi Thomas as chair pro temp and vice pro temp, and recognized Naim Erched for his three years of serving as chairman.