Special BOCC meeting to address remote comments

Notepad and pen on table in empty conference room
Notepad and pen on table in empty conference room

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on Tuesday will discuss updating policy on remote public comments, hear a presentation about changes to the Unified Land Development Code (ULDC) and discuss the development review process.

The meeting starts at 10 a.m. with remote public comment at the top of the agenda. The fiscal consideration for monitoring and managing remote comments ranges from $150,000 to $200,000 according to the agenda.

Issues with decorum have made remote commenting a topic of concern not only for Alachua County but also the City of Gainesville, which plans to address the same issues and is looking to base actions on what the county decides on Tuesday.

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Sufficient budget exists to develop and advertise ULDC revisions, according to staff recommendations. An annotated draft code amendment will be presented focusing on accessory dwelling units, mobile and RV parks, and traditional neighborhood development (TND) center street design.

The BOCC will listen to the presentation and provide direction to county staff for any code changes.

And finally, the discussion on the development review process will use Leon County’s site and development plan rearview levels and incentives as a model as county staff delivers a presentation about the history and reviews of the process and relays information on peer communities.

According to staff’s presentation, the current development review process involves a pre-application conference, a pre-design on-site inspection to identify resources and trees, reviews of concepts prior to submitting, a preliminary development plan review and a final development plan with DRC approval.

The American Planning Association (APA) defines best practices as: “The process should always improve marginal developments and reject those that are inappropriate, but it should not be the stumbling block that inhibits desirable outcomes.”

The staff report states that process improvements from 2017 include providing a complete list of issues up front to allow for a consistent number of reviews, that staff provides more opportunities to meet with applicants to resolve issues, and that the development review planner facilitates communication between departments, applicants and citizens.

The complete agenda is available online.

The public may submit comments and written or photographic documents to the board through email (bocc@alachuacounty.us). Virtual participation is available through the public comment message line. The meeting will also be open for in-person attendance. 

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