Update: The Gainesville City Commission on Dec. 5 rejected Weyerhaeuser’s application to rezone these nearly 2,000 acres from an agricultural designation, putting the entire project on hold indefinitely.
The Gainesville City Plan Board on Wednesday night came to the unanimous decision to postpone action until January on a plan for a large 1,778-acre mixed-use development.
That move came despite criticism from the public and with consideration of a pending lawsuit from the property’s owner, Weyerhaeuser, which intends to build retail space and more than 1,000 homes there.
Nannette Estepp, who owns property near the proposed development, said she has faced damage from flooding due to the lack of action on the nearby property.
“I taught school for 35 years, and we bought our piece of property for an investment,” Estepp said, “and you guys keep screwing around with it.”
Those who spoke before and after Estepp didn’t necessarily share her concerns. Delena McTeer had environmental concerns about the land being cleared should the city decide to move forward with the development plan.
The meeting began with a presentation from attorney and Weyerhaeuser representative David Coffey.
Coffey described what he called miscommunications on the city’s part regarding the public hearing. The developer filed the lawsuit earlier this year due to what its representatives say is a lack of action and notice from the city. A final decision on the project had earlier been postponed multiple times.
“One has to wonder ‘Why?’ Why is this extraordinary rush being undertaken? Why go through this process with the notice failure?” he said. “Perhaps it is to avoid having to observe Weyerhaeuser’s due process right.”
As of now, a decision on the planned development zoning is going to be heard — after two years of being postponed — on Dec. 5 in front of the Gainesville City Commission.
A second presentation on the topic followed from city planner Brittany McMullen. Her presentation went over the history of the development from the property’s 2007 annexation from the county into the city to the extension of the planned development zoning petition deadline in 2018.
“Per City Commission direction, the entire 1,778 acres is proposed to be agriculture,” McMullen said.
“If this petition is approved, the entirety of the property will have an agricultural land use designation which was the historical designation.”
Circuit Civil Judge Monica Brasington in late October held a hearing on the lawsuit between the developer and the city. That case remains pending.
Correction appended: A previous version of this story misidentified David Coffey as Andrew Coffey.