Rerouting of SW 75th Street remains
Published: Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 9, 2008 at 12:00 a.m.
The rerouting of a portion of SW 75th Street through the new Brytan mixed-use development will remain, at least until a lawsuit filed by residents angered over the change is resolved, under a vote taken by the Alachua County Commission on Tuesday night.
Commissioners voted 3-2 to keep the new route. Mike Byerly and Paula DeLaney dissented, favoring modifications to a different street to better enable residents to bypass most of Brytan.
"The result of the legal challenge is what the outcome of this will be," said Commission Chairman Rodney Long. "If we're going to be waiting on the court of law, I'm going to wait before I vote for any changes."
At issue is the part of SW 75th Street south of Archer Road. It previously connected to Archer Road west of the northern part of 75th, but has been rerouted through the commercial zone of Brytan, a mixed-use development now under construction.
The rerouting was done to bring both ends of 75th Street together at a traffic signal to improve safety. A new route had been included in the county's comprehensive plan since 1991. It was put through Brytan when the development was in the planning process.
An optional route - SW 75th Terrace - veers off the original 75th Street slightly through Brytan before reconnecting with 75th Street near Archer Road. Byerly and DeLaney favored modifications to that route, but were outvoted.
Modification design and construction costs were estimated at about $83,000. That did not include right-of-way acquisition or legal expenses from a lawsuit that would possibly be filed by Brytan over the loss of on-street parking.
Residents who live in subdivisions along SW 75th Street want the original route restored. They believe the rerouting slows traffic, including emergency vehicles, and is difficult to maneuver with horse trailers and trucks.
"It's like the emperor's new clothes. Only the commissioners see the clothes. The rest of us see the nakedness," resident Evelyn Perry said. "Brytan is a good place to drive to, not drive through."
A suit has been filed by some residents alleging the county broke the law by not holding a proper public hearing and on other procedural grounds.
The county Public Works Department studied the issue twice and recommended leaving the route through Brytan both times.
Assistant Public Works Director Dave Cerlanek said the new 75th Street meets county standards for width and other factors including safety.
"No rationale exists to change the design," Cerlanek said.
Brytan has put the county on notice it will file a lawsuit if on-street parking is eliminated because it could impact businesses that will be built along the streets.
County Attorney Dave Wagner said he believes Brytan would have a legal right to the parking. Wagner added he believes the county followed proper procedures in approving Brytan and the street rerouting.
The commission voted to keep the route as it is until the lawsuit filed by residents is resolved. Changes could be made then if needed, commissioners said.
Cindy Swirko can be reached at 352-374-5024 or swirkoc@ gvillesun.com.
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