by James Thompson
In the August 30th Democratic primary for the Alachua County Commission races, the people get to decide who runs our community–Chamber of Commerce candidates supported by PAC money, or locally grown grassroots issue-based progressives. As sitting Commissioner Robert Hutchinson has acknowledged alongside his own race for re-election, the more difficult challenge is getting his colleague Mike Byerly to keep his seat against the charismatic Jacksonville transplant, Pastor Kevin Thorpe. If Thorpe wins, Plum Creek (now Weyerhaeuser) will resubmit its plans to undermine our Comprehensive Plan and build a city on the wetlands in Eastern Alachua County, and we will see a decline in the focus on social services and a County living wage. The primary is the sum of the election, since no Republican is running, and you must be registered as a Democrat to vote in it. You can do this and request a mail-in ballot at www.votealachua.com. Continue reading
By Scott Camil
The Alachua County Comprehensive plan is as close as we can get to a political consensus and compromise in our community. The product of many years of citizen advisory committee deliberations, workshops, public hearings, and legal challenges, then formally adopted and continually revised by an elected county commission, it provides a carefully considered blueprint for future growth in the unincorporated areas of our county. It balances the public interest with the rights of property owners by directing growth to appropriate areas and protecting public health, neighborhoods, farms, wetlands, and significant natural areas.
In 2011, Plum Creek created the Envision Alachua Task Force and began working on a plan to develop its lands in eastern Alachua County. This would require massive changes to the county’s comprehensive plan, sparking significant opposition by environmentalists and rural citizens. The Envision Alachua plan is now before the County Commission.
Proposed amendments to the county’s Comprehensive Plan are first considered by the Planning Commission, a citizen advisory board appointed by the Alachua County Commission, before going to the County Commission. After public hearings in November, the Planning Commission over-rode staff objections and voted 4-2 to recommend approval to the County Commission. The staff had recommended DENIAL. The circumstances surrounding the Planning Commission hearings are now raising serious questions about the fairness of the process.
The chair of the Planning Commission is Jennifer Springfield, a local attorney who has been hired by Plum Creek to assist with their development plans. Plum Creek has now annexed a part of their land into the city of Hawthorne, where it will be exempt from the county’s environmental safeguards. Springfield did not recuse herself from the planning commission vote, nor did she disclose her relationship with Plum Creek before voting to approve their application.
Posted in Articles, January-February 2016
Tagged alachua county planning commission, anthony lyons, Eileen Roy, eric drummond, evan pitts, jennifer springfield, plum creek, rose fagler, susan mcquillan, tim rockwell
by Stand By Our Plan
What are Plum Creek’s real intentions for their 60,000 acres in Alachua County?
Should the Alachua County Commission grant their request to rezone their timberland to allow for urban development?
The friendly local people they’ve hired say they have a fifty-year plan, and they’re in it for the long haul.
Their boss says something different.
In an interview with financial analysts in Atlanta on April 28, Plum Creek CEO Rick Holley had the following to say about the company’s investment strategy.
“One of the key incentives for the company over the past several years has been the entitlement of our most valuable development properties. Through the pursuit of these entitlements, we change the very nature of these assets and create long term value for shareholders. We do not intend to pursue vertical development [construction], or invest a significant amount of capital into these properties. Rather, our strategy is to spend time and effort to move these properties up the value chain through entitlement and capture that value.”