Every seven years, state law requires that all local governments review and evaluate their comprehensive plan. This is called and Evaluation and Appraisal Report. The purpose of this planning process is to update the Comprehensive Plan and to assess the city’s progress in implementing the Comprehensive Plan.
The EAR is intended to accomplish several important purposes:
• Identify planning related community issues
• Review past actions of the local government in implementing the plan since the last EAR
• Assess the degree to which plan objectives have been achieved
• Assess both successes and shortcomings of the plan
• Identify ways that the plan should be changed
• Respond to changes in state requirements and regional plans
• Ensure effective intergovernmental coordination
On October 13, 2009, a public workshop was held jointly with the City Commission and Planning and Zoning Board to solicit citizen comment and input on planning related issues facing the city. Seven major issues were identified. The list of issues was presented to the Planning in Zoning Board at a public meeting on November 10, 2009, and the City Commission approved the list of issues, with the inclusion of an additional issue, at a public meeting on November 16, 2009. On January 14, 2010, city staff held a meeting to solicit input from state and regional agencies. A request for a Letter of Understanding was then sent to the Florida Department of Community Affairs requesting their concurrence with the city’s list of issues to be addressed in the EAR Report. The Department of Community Affairs provided a Letter of Understanding on March 3, 2010, indicating their agreement with the issues to be addressed.
List of Issues:
1. Neighborhood Revitalization
A frequent sentiment expressed at the Major Issues Workshop was to create thriving residential neighborhoods in the City, spur a sense of neighborhood in new and existing communities, and focus more attention in areas where levels of blight exist. The EAR will analyze policies that strengthen and upgrade neighborhoods and protect them from adverse influences, policies that will encourage affordable and workforce housing (providing reasonable housing for all income levels throughout the City), and neighborhood planning strategies and improvement plans.
2. Traffic Along the U.S. Highway 441 Corridor
A declining Level of Service on U.S. 441 through the City of Alachua is a potential issue. The EAR will identify the applicable section(s) of highway, current traffic counts and potential level of service issues, and will explore possible strategies to enhance level of service, reduce trips and address concurrency, such as parallel roadway facilities, alternative roadways, Transportation Concurrency Exception Areas, and multi-modal enhancements.
3. Create a More Walkable City
Walkability, which is the extension of the transportation system to provide a comprehensive pedestrian network, is a potential issue. The EAR will address the City’s need to expand and complete pedestrian connectivity, potential strategies for enhancing walkability and examine streetscape requirements to make pedestrian accessibility in the City more attractive and comfortable.
4. Preservation of Water Resources
The EAR will evaluate and identify methods to preserve water resources, including conservation, reclaimed water use programs, xeriscaping and low impact development strategies. The City will coordinate with the Suwannee River Water Management District to develop strategies for water supply planning.
5. Vision for the Community
The City created its Vision Element in 2002. The City has experienced much growth and development since 2002 and certain aspects of the City’s Vision Element have been realized. The EAR will evaluate the successes and failures of the past ten years, and will propose strategies for updating the Vision Statement and goals during the next ten year planning horizon. A charette shall be held to encourage a collaborative effort in updating the Vision Element.
6. Protection of San Felasco State Park
The City of Alachua is a neighbor to the San Felasco State Park, which serves as a conservation corridor and recreational amenity for City residents. The EAR will evaluate strategies to protect the San Felasco State Park to ensure compatibility between residential subdivisions and the Park, and will evaluate the need to focus development away from the Park boundary by utilizing increased setbacks and buffers. The strategies may address wildfire mitigation, habitat preservation and natural resource protection.
7. Alternative Energy
The EAR will evaluate the use of renewable and alternative energy, which may include the reduction of greenhouse gases, and policies that promote energy efficiency.
8. Strengthen Small Business
The City of Alachua has long taken pride in its small town atmosphere and the home-grown local businesses that contribute to the City’s downtown charm. The EAR will evaluate the small business climate in the City and identify strategies to sustain local business success and promote small business development. The Economic Element will be evaluated to determine the need for additional goals and policies to further this objective.
EAR Powerpoint Presentation
Letter of Understanding to the Department of Community Affairs
Response from the Department of Community Affairs