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Tuesday May 21st, 2019 9:20AM

Tower Heights rezoning recommended for approval despite stern warning sounded by local expert

By Marc Eggers Anchor / Reporter

GAINESVILLE – The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board rendered a unanimous recommendation for approval Tuesday evening to a plan for redeveloping 6.822-acres along Tower Heights Road, but a local real estate professional, whose office is across the street from the project, had strong words of warning.

Veteran real estate broker Jack Waldrip, whose office is at the intersection of Jones Street and Pearl Nix Parkway, told board members, “I’m not opposed to the project; I’m not opposed.  What I am opposed to is two things: one is this intersection being used; and, two, there needs to be a solution (for) the pedestrians in the area.”

Waldrip said from the vantage point of his office he and his staff regularly sees accidents, near-accidents, and dangerous crossings of Pearl Nix Parkway by people on foot.  “We’ve watched people almost get run over, constantly.”

“I’m not an expert on a lot of things, but I’m an expert on the Jones Street-Pearl Nix Parkway intersection,” Waldrip began.  “You have a large hill, a lot of traffic and no decele (deceleration) lane at all, so it has become, and is, a real traffic nightmare.”

“If you approve this project and allow this intersection to be used you’ve just created a death trap,” he added.

“I know the Planning Staff has recommended a (traffic) study to be done, but table this and let the study be done,” Waldrip said emphatically.  “Don’t go forward with it until you see that study.”

Community and Economic Development Deputy Director Matt Tate told board members that a traffic study in advance of the rezoning request was not required.  “The reason there was no traffic study prior is (because) the development did not qualify for, didn’t meet the threshold to require, a traffic impact study.” 

Tate explained that a traffic study would be required before the project could be permitted as one of the conditions attached to the rezoning request.  A rezoning request, Tate explained, in and of itself, doesn’t necessarily require a traffic study.

“That would be done by a third party – independent – it would not be done by the City of Gainesville…and they would specifically be studying that intersection of Pearl Nix and Jones Street,” Tate added.

“I agree with Mr. Waldrip,” Tate said.  “That intersection does need to be studied.”  That study, however, would not come until the developer submits a request for a construction permit, and Tate says there will be ample time then to conduct an independent traffic study.

The rezoning request still needs final approval from the Gainesville City Council before becoming effective; that should happen at its voting session on May 7th.

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Tower Heights rezoning recommended for approval despite stern warning sounded by local expert
The Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board rendered a unanimous recommendation for approval Tuesday evening to a plan for redeveloping 6.822-acres along Tower Heights Road, but a local real estate professional, whose office is across the street from the project, had strong words of warning.
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