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Leon County Commission At-Large Candidates Envision Different Urban Landscapes

Florida Memory State Library & Archives

The two candidates for the Leon County Commission At-Large Seat disagree about changes to the county’s urban development. 

Incumbent Mary Ann Lindley and her challenger David Hawkins see Leon development very differently. One place where they disagree is setbacks. Those are the buffers between road and building usually dominated by parking lots. Lindley says minimizing setbacks promotes walkability.

“New urban design areas where you want the parking to be in the back of buildings, businesses, and so forth and the sidewalk emphasis right there is a connectivity, walkability thing to encourage pedestrian and community where people are walking to and from,” says Lindley.

But David Hawkins is less enthusiastic about the design.

He says, “I’ve wondered the setback myself because years ago, they were talking about widening Gaines Street and then here they put a hotel right there on the corner and it’s like ‘well how can you widen it now?’ Now I see they narrowed it. There’s a lot of apartments on West Tennessee Street the same way which I can’t figure out why they did it that way. It’s just one of those things where you just have to wonder.”

The candidates do agree on one point: they both want redevelopment of existing buildings. The problem? Lindley says the government can only do so much to make up for limited demand.

“I wish more of the old, decrepit places that are abandoned would be rehabbed but that’s an expensive thing that local builders and development, they have to consider that,” says Lindley. 

The built environment in Leon County is rapidly changing, and the general election in November will have an impact on what the future landscape will look like.