Elections have consequences, and one big consequence of the recent Gainesville City Commission election is rejection of the Blues Creek Unit 5 Development proposal which would have run sewer lines through a 90-acre conservation area and under Blues Creek.  

The reason the Commission, led by newly-elected Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos and Mayor Lauren Poe, rejected the developer’s proposal was not specifically related to our concerns but rather to the road extension which did not meet requirements of the City’s Comprehensive Plan. The developer can come back with an alternative plan but, given the constraints of the parcel, this may force the elimination of the utility lines through the conservation area and reduce the number of houses to be built in the part closest to the creek. In any case, the City’s rejection has allowed us more time to organize to protect Blues Creek and the surrounding sensitive areas.

As a new commissioner, Hayes-Santos displayed a remarkable depth of understanding of the City’s Comprehensive Plan and made articulate arguments for upholding it in this case. Mayor Poe made additional points in support of the Comprehensive Plan and, between the two of them, were able to convince Commissioners Harvey Budd and Helen Warren to vote against the development proposal.

Had the vote taken place one month earlier, the outcome would have been very different. While the fight is not over, it is nice to know that we once again have a majority of smart, pro-active, pro-environment representatives on the City Commission.