The Gainesville City Commission is set to finalize changes Monday afternoon that would eliminate single family zoning throughout the city, and community organizers are set to again protest the changes.
In August, the commission, approved 4-3 on first reading three ordinances that would replace the city’s existing four single-family zoning categories with a neighborhood residential category.
The neighborhood residential category would allow duplex, triplexes and quadraplexes in neighborhoods that are currently single-family only.
The ordinances also increase the allowed density per acre of land in the city and lower the setback requirements from property lines. Currently, parcels with single-family 1 designation are allowed to have a maximum of 3.5 housing units per acre, but the changes would convert all the single-family parcels to an allowed 8 units per acre.
Currently, only parcels with a single-family 4 designation have an 8 unit maximum.
The city has scheduled a special meeting for Monday at 3 p.m. to make the final vote on the changes. And a community group founded to oppose the change has planned a “speak out” at City Hall at 2 p.m. Monday in response.
GNV Neighborhood Voices said in a press release that it expected the ordinances to be approved on second reading, likely with the same 4-3 vote. The group has invited residents to rally against the proposal and then proceed to the meeting and sign up to speak for the three minutes allowed per person.
At the August meeting, the public comment portion took hours as a wide range of residents registered their opposition. More than 2,700 residents have signed a Change.org petition asking the city not to approve the elimination of single-family zoning.
Under state law, changes to the land use plan had to be sent for review to several regional and state entities, including the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the St. Johns River Water Management District and the Suwannee River Water Management District.
While several of the entities, including the water management districts and the state Department of Education, did not object to the changes, the BOCC asked the city to delay the vote until the impacts of the changes could be studied.
The Department of Economic Opportunity letter was more blunt, calling the changes “scattered, unplanned, unfocused and untenable” and suggesting the city withdraw the changes altogether.
In an interview about the DOE letter, Mayor Lauren Poe said the city was moving forward with the changes and he expected the commission to finalize the ordinances on second reading.
“We’ll incorporate that feedback into our decision-making process,” Poe said. “Whether or not that leads to some modifications or not, I just don’t know at this point.”