Hawthorne Residents Voice Concerns With Development Plans

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Signs like this one show residents of Hawthorne have serious concerns with Plum Creek Timber Company's plans for development in the area.
Signs like this one show residents of Hawthorne have serious concerns with Plum Creek Timber Company’s plans for development in the area.” credit=”WUFT News

Landowners in southeast Alachua County are concerned about a proposed development that could bring serious changes to the area.

Plum Creek Timber Company has plans to develop part of Hawthorne, which include adding more than 10,000 residential units and more than 15 million square feet of non-residential development.

The city had its first of four public workshops on Sept. 3, where the company discussed its plans. And while some residents are OK with the project, others like Marshall Irby still have questions.

“The water supply usage and the effect on the aquifer; what will 10,000 houses do to us?” said Marshall Irby, a resident of the area.

That’s just one of the questions residents wanted answered in a letter addressed to the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners. The letter expressed their concerns, along with a request for the timber company to make changes to the Alachua County Comprehensive Plan.

The plan was drafted by the commission in 2011, and is meant to guide development through 2030.

Alachua County staff released a 137 page report last week, aiming to reject the proposal.

“There’s a lot of complexity to this” said Steven Lachnicht, Alachua County growth management director.  “Obviously, it involves a great deal of property. It’s a natural resource issue, there’s impacts to wetlands, there’s potential impact to water bodies in Newnan’s lake – there will be traffic impacts to the roadways.”

Matthew Surrency, Hawthorne’s mayor, doesn’t agree with all of the resident’s concerns. While he wants to see some changes to the plan, he finds it beneficial overall.

“There’s some tweaking that can be done,” said Surrency.

“I think there’s parts that make sense in certain areas. I think there are other parts that can be worked with, but I think it’s going to take good county leadership to try to work with the property owner.”

But for Irby, the problems with the plan go far beyond things that could be fixed with just a small “tweak.”

“There’s people talking about 10,500 homes. If you have 10,500 homes, you’re talking 5,700 people. That’s more water than we can afford. We already know that our aquifer is being depleted now,” Irby Said.

Two more workshops are scheduled to discuss the company’s plan and let the public voice their concerns.

About Julian Hernandez

Julian is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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