The effort to bring a small-scale meat processing facility to Newberry is over.
After months of debate over funding the $5.25 million project and how it would operate, the Alachua County Commission voted three-to-two to end further discussion and staff time on the issue.
Commissioner Marihelen Wheeler said she thinks it is time for the private sector to get with academic institutions to create a joint venture.
“Have them work with the University of Florida, who is interested, Santa Fe College, who is interested, to build a public-private partnership to get this that is not government-funded,” she said.
Area lawmakers were able to secure funding in this year’s state budget for the meat processing facility. However, Gov. Ron DeSantis used his line item veto power to zero out the appropriation when he signed the spending plan into law.
Commissioner Chuck Chestnut opposed putting the facility in Newberry. He thinks city officials donated the land for the facility in return for repaving County Road 337. He says most of them do not even want to be in Alachua County.
“Don’t come to the county asking us to put facilities in your backyard when you want to do a new county,” he said. “I don’t play those games like that. I am really upset they do not want to discuss this with us, unless we do County Road 337.”
Commissioner Ken Cornell was the other vote against the meat processing facility. Commissioners Anna Prizzia and Mary Alford voted in favor of proceeding with creating a scope of project document. That would allow the county to solicit developer-operators for the meat processing facility.