A Gainesville Sun article highlighted some of the tension surrounding Plum Creek’s Envision Alachua initiative. Plum Creek is seeking to change Alachua County’s master plan to permit the development of some 10,500 residential units and 15.5 million square feet of commercial space in eastern Alachua County. There are two things important to note.
First, Plum Creek is currently permitted to build upwards of 9,400 residential units with no changes to the comprehensive plan. Under current guidelines, however, Plum Creek wouldn’t be able to make the development nearly as sustainable or add many of the conservation measures they seek. Second, it’s worth noting the economic gap between East and West Gainesville. The proposed plan would greatly increase economic opportunity for East Gainesville, and pull future development east, away from overbuilt areas in West Gainesville.
According to the article, the four workshops that took place this past month have been more of the same. That is, more of the county offering a laundry list of criticisms, while failing to offer options or remedies to Plum Creek. It is rare a company is so enthusiastic about letting the community shape their vision, but as it stands the local government is stifling this effort.
The article suggests the county provide choices to the community, to allow citizens to decide what’s best for the future of Alachua County. Plum Creek has made it clear they are willing to listen, compromise, and reform in order to meet the needs of the community. It is the commission’s job to ensure the community has ample opportunity to voice their opinions to Plum Creek.