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Leon County Commission Reviewing Commercial Properties In Rural Zones

Florida Farm Bureau

The Leon County Commission has amended the county Land Development Code to ban new gas stations in the Rural Zoning District. The move comes after a push from the Keep It Rural Coalition. 

Along with the decision to limit new gas station projects in rural zones, county officials are considering another look at what kind of commercial land use is appropriate. Wayne Tedder is the  Leon County director of planning, land management and community enhancement. 

"I think everyone feels that a bit of commercial is appropriate in the rural. We've just got to figure out what that magic thing is," Tedder says.

Earlier this year, the commission changed the county’s Land Development Code, eliminating nearly 200 potential locations for commercial uses in rural zones. The changes also ramped up the review process for proposed projects. Meanwhile, the Keep It Rural Coalition is pushing the commission to review whether or what commercial development is appropriate in rural zones. The proposal comes through what Tedder calls a “text amendment.” He says the county’s policy is to bring any citizen submitted text amendment before the commission. 

“And at least in this particular case, three commissioners need to vote to move it forward indicating that it’s at least a worthy amendment for us to consider. It doesn’t require a majority vote. It just requires a minority, if you will, of three county commissioners to move this process forward.” 

Commission members voted to consider the text amendment during the 2015 Comprehensive Plan Amendment Cycle. That means a conversation on the proposal will continue, but commissioners will still have the option to vote against it. Commissioner members did not hold a vote on a second amendment from the group addressing what’s called “urban fringe.” The county staff says the proposal would make minor changes and Commissioner Kristen Dozier says it makes more sense to address the second citizen amendment during a full revision of the county’s land use plan. 

“I wanted to put that on the record that we did initiate yesterday with a vote a look at the entire land use section of the comp plan and this will be part of it,” Dozier says.

Commission members say they feel good about efforts both groups have made to work together on these issues.