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Commission Postpones Vote On Northeast, Bannerman Rezoning

A house under construction
Nick Ares

Rezoning a section of land in Northeast Leon County is on hold after commissioners received documents hours before a planned vote.

Residents of Ox Bottom, SummerBrooke and Killearn are opposed to the change and the county has received more than 600 petition signatures and scores of letters. Leon County Attorney Herb Thiele recommended the rezoning vote be pushed back to a later date.

“It would be my recommendation that you continue the rezoning item back to a date certain because you need to be able to say, ‘I took all the rezoning information into consideration’," he told commissioners.

But the timing of the move didn’t sit well with Chairman Nick Maddox, nor Commissioners Bill Proctor and Mary Ann Lindley, with Proctor noting it’s not the first time the group has gotten last-minute paperwork.

“This could have gotten to us sooner," Proctor said to Thiele. “Commissioner, you’ll see from my office that it won’t happen again," Thiele replied.

Later, commissioners voted to not accept documents submitted the day of a hearing. 

Meanwhile Commissioner Lindley expressed suspicion about the timing of the submission.

“I hope it’s not a ruse to get a delay," she said. "It’s not fair and it really colors my view of the material that it slipped in.”  

For weeks, area residents have been blasting commissioners with emails and a calling campaign urging them to reject the rezoning plan. They claim changes in density will create more houses than the area can sustain—increasing road traffic and overflowing schools.

But an analysis of enrollment impacts by the county and school district indicate there’s plenty of room in schools like Hawks Rise Elementary, Deerlake Middle and Chiles High School. Superintendent Rocky Hanna says if the schools get too many students, those attending through some of the district’s choice programs would have to go elsewhere.

“We would simply reduce the number of kids allowed to choice in from other zones," Hanna has said previously. 

The affected communities are in the districts of Commissioners John Dailey and Bryan Desloge. Desloge made the initial motion to postpone the hearing citing concerns about traffic in the area.  The motion passed 4-3, with Lindley, Maddox and Proctor opposed to the postponement.  The housing project has been in the works for more than two years and the county will take up the zoning change a July 10th public hearing. 

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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