City clears plan for annexing SW area


Published: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 at 12:35 a.m.

Facts

How they voted

Vote on holding an election in May to annex 5,400 new residents into the city.

  • FOR: Warren Nielsen, Tony Domenech, Chuck Chestnut.
  • AGAINST: Mayor Tom Bussing, Ed Braddy.

  • The city of Gainesville moved forward with plans Monday night to bring 5,400 new residents into the city's borders, despite concerns that it is moving too quickly to annex a swath of apartment complexes along SW 20th Avenue.
    By a 3-2 vote, the City Commission gave its initial approval Monday night to the Urban Services Report, a document outlining the government services required for the area. That vote allows the city to proceed with a tight timetable of commission hearings and a 90-day waiting period, in order to have an election around May 1.
    Mayor Tom Bussing and Commissioner Ed Braddy voted against approving the report.
    The area is bounded by Interstate 75, SW 24th Avenue, SW 34th Street and the current city limits to the north.
    The University of Florida's student government has asked Gainesville to annex the area, saying it would allow students to vote in city elections. The city also could provide improved lighting, sidewalks and bus service that the county couldn't provide, the students say.
    The area is large enough that the city would have to create a new police zone and initially hire 10 new police officers and staff, according to the Urban Services Report.
    City Manager Wayne Bowers has said the city likely would have to redraw its election districts if the area is annexed.
    The annexation would bring a county fire station into the city limits - a scenario that could cause conflict as the city and county resume talks of merging their emergency services.
    If voters approve the annexation, Alachua County Station 19, a fire-rescue station, would continue to service the area, but Gainesville would negotiate transferring it into city control.
    Braddy said he supported the annexation at first, because the corridor was urban in nature and adjacent to city lines. But it may be best to wait and develop a plan for the transition of fire services, he said.
    "Let's make this the model. If that means delaying the annexation for several months . . . I think that may be the best exercise we do," he said.
    Bussing, who voted in December against beginning the annexation process, said UF's student government - not residents of the area - are requesting the annexation.
    He said student government officials might be painting a false picture of things Gainesville can provide, such as new bike lanes or sidewalks, in order to get residents to vote for the annexation.
    "It's a tight budget just to provide the essential urban services. This is not going to turn the area around," he said.
    Scotty Taylor, secretary-treasurer of the firefighters union that serves city and county firefighters, said the firefighters at County Station 19 are worried about what will happen to their jobs if the annexation occurs. He said the city and county need to map out what will happen to county fire departments if this annexation, and others in the future, occur.
    "What is going to happen to us? Are we going to be city employees or county employees? We don't know," he said.
    Ashley Rowland can be reached at 374-5195 or rowlana@gvillesun.com.

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