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City, County To Take Up Welaunee Changes In Comp Plan

Welaunee
City of Tallahassee
A map of the current boundary areas in Welaunee and the area that would be brought within the Urban Services Area

A pivotal vote set for tomorrow, critics say, could lead to further development in the northeast part of Tallahassee.

Efforts to block the vote have failed in the runup to the city and county taking up amendments to the Leon County comprehensive plan. Opponents of the plan staged a drive-by protest at City Hall, Friday afternoon. They were protesting a county decision to hold the meeting without the public being able to attend in-person.

"To say that the public has been denied the opportunity to participate? Well, we've had several public meetings. In fact, if you look at the agenda item on the first page, it lists every single public meeting that took place. Now, having said that, let's have a great conversation with the county and the city and see where we're going," said Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey.

The proposed amendments would add a 2,800 acre parcel of the Welaunee Plantation into the urban services area—a designation that marks where a municipality provides services like utilities and transit.

Critics fear the changes will lead to the land being developed and argue the city should concentrate on areas within the boundary, such as Orange Avenue, that need additional investment.

The attorney for the family that owns the land says there are no immediate plans to develop the parcel.

“I believe in people who own land having the right to decide how they use their land,” said Gary Hunter, with the firm Hopping, Green & Sams. “I think it’s important from the perspective of the landowners who I represent… the family who owns Powerhouse Inc… are not developers, they’ve never developed an inch of their property. They have never spoken to a developer or prospective developer of the arch.”

City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow recently hosted a digital town hall on the proposed changes. Speaking during the forum, former Tallahassee Mayor Dot Inman-Johnson said she recalls the conversation at the time of the original comp plan and that the changes don’t align with what the crafters envisioned 30 years ago.

“I have a real concern about developing properties in this county further out in the northeast before we have committed adequate resources to keep our promises to other parts of the community. That was the whole point. The southern strategy was built into this 30 years ago, and it was built in because may residents… felt enough attention wasn’t given to other parts of the community besides the northeast,” she said.

Critics say the changes are being rushed and aren’t needed. They also note the lack of ability to comment on the proposal in person. Commissioner Brian Desloge is backing the change and says no development would take place for at least ten, to 15 years. He also points out the proposal has been on the table since October but has been discussed for 30 years.