Gainesville commission to take on loaded agenda

A report on GRU’s efforts to develop a solar farm, a proposal to require city employees to vaccinate, and a filing of a potential lawsuit against the state are among the items on the agenda for Thursday’s Gainesville City Commission meeting.

A second reading of the city’s open container ordinance will also be on the agenda, which is available at the city’s website. Citizens can comment online or in person during the meeting. People attending the meeting in person are required to wear a mask and socially distance.

Citizens can also call into the meeting to make comments at 800-876-7516.

The commission starts its meeting at 1 p.m. at Gainesville City Hall, takes a brief dinner break and resumes the meeting around 5:30 p.m.

Renewable energy plan

The city entered a contract with Origis to build a solar farm, but last month the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners voted against letting Origis build on a site in Archer.

Tomorrow, the Gainesville commissioners will hear an update from its staff who have been meeting with Origis executives about future plans. No action is currently planned for this item.

COVID-19 requirements

The commission will discuss a set of proposals from Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos that includes requiring city employees to get vaccinated for COVID-19. Other elements of the proposal include requiring employees, including vaccinated ones, to wear masks indoors until the CDC changes its recommendations.

Gainesville City Commissioner Adrian Hayes Santos

Local hospitals have seen a significant rise in coronavirus patients, and the Alachua County School Board announced Tuesday that students must wear masks for the first two weeks of school.

Open container ordinance

The commission temporarily lifted the open container law last year in an effort to help distancing during the pandemic. Now, the changes might stay permanent. 

The commission voted 4-3 on first reading to approve changes to its alcohol ordinance at its July 19 meeting. A second reading of the ordinance is on the agenda for Thursday evening.

Lawsuit against state

In May, the commission instructed the Office of the City Attorney to work with the Community Justice Project and the Public Rights Project to draft a lawsuit challenging a Florida bill. The legislation, HB 1, defines and regulates rioting and protesting.

Now, the commission must decide whether to greenlight the lawsuit, which would be filed by the two outside organizations on behalf of the city.

The recommendation from the Office of the City Attorney is to wait and monitor the situation around the state, seeing if HB 1 actually has an impact. The recommendation from the outside counsel is to file the lawsuit.

The commission will also hear a number of rezoning applications, proclaim August as Gastroparesis Awareness Month and discuss closing Depot Park for the Tom Petty Birthday Bash in October.

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