The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved two separate community development districts at its regular meeting on Tuesday after the developer signed an agreement to exclude a public improvement fee (PIF).
The two developments came before the commissioners May 10, but the commissioners held off on signing until a legal agreement could be drafted to exclude the PIF, which allows commercial businesses in the development to levy a 1-cent surtax.
The community development districts (CDD) will be located near the intersection of NW 39th Avenue and Interstate 75. The Springhills North district will be 361 acres while Springhills South will be 113 acres.
The CDDs are government-like organizations that maintain districts through the financial backing of its residents and are ruled by a board voted on by the residents.
Both districts will contain a mix of commercial and residential development, and both CDDs are responsible for maintaining the infrastructure. The Springhill North will also finance a new bridge over I-75 once the development reaches a certain limit.
In total, Springhill North will spend nearly $100 million over the next eight years in proposed facilities and estimated costs, from the I-75 bridge to roads, wastewater systems, landscaping and conservation areas.
The commissioners also decided to move forward with the Arts Council of Alachua County’s top pick for a new statue on the West Lawn. The statue will depict a Sankofa bird in honor of the late Dr. Patricia Hilliard-Nunn.
The Arts Council ranked two submittals by artist with an 83 and allowed the Hilliard-Nunn family pick between the two for the top spot. However, the commissioners and family agreed that they wanted something more realistic.
“That doesn’t look real to me, I’ll just be honest with you,” Commissioner Chuck Chestnut said at the meeting.
The commissioners decided to move forward with George Gadson and have him submit new designs.
“The most important thing is that this statue stands for what you all want it to stand for, and I agree with Commissioner Chestnut that it’s not clear that this is a Sankofa bird,” Kenneth Nunn, husband of Hilliard-Nunn, said to the commission.
The BOCC also decided to start removing invasive plants from the canal that connects Lake Alto and Little Santa Fe Lake.
Stephen Hofstetter, environmental protection director, said the canal is navigable in a canoe, kayak or perhaps a small boat.
He said the future of the canal depends on the commissioner’s vision for the area. The county could work to clear it of all vegetation and dredge the canal to make room for more motorized watercraft or keep it as is.
Staff recommended clearing the invasive, non-native plants while keeping the rest, maintaining the canal as a blue way. The commission supported the recommendation to keep the canal as a blue way for canoes and kayaks.
Hofstetter said the cost to remove the vegetation would be approximately $2,800. The process would involve spraying the plants and letting the flow wash the dead plants away.
He said he prefered removing the plants by hand but that method provides additional complications. Hofstetter added that maintaining the canal in the future could use by-hand management instead of spraying.
The commission moved to go forward with removing the invasive, non-native plants, and Hofstetter will return with costs for removing the vegetation by hand so that the BOCC can decide how to move forward.