I wanted to touch on one of the hotter topics that is affecting our beloved Gainesville Community. This topic has left a number of individuals, particularly on the eastern half of Alachua County, somewhat divided, and rightfully so. There is a movement that is gaining traction, with support and opposition, that could shape the next 50 years of Alachua County's growth and development. I recently have gotten involved in the discussions over this heated topic. While I will not disclose my position on this topic through this medium, nor will I encourage you to choose either side of the discussion, I do think that it's only fitting for you to be "in the know" of what is at hand since it will affect you and your families for years to come. The movement is called Envision Alachua and at the center of it's plan is huge landowner by the name of Plum Creek.
WHAT IS ENVISION ALACHUA?
When Alachua County government asked Plum Creek what its plans were for 65,000 acres of land in eastern Alachua County, the company responded with Envision Alachua—a community-based planning process that has spanned, to date, over three years and collected feedback from more than 1,700 area residents. A community vision of what could be achieved on these Plum Creek lands emerged from Envision Alachua. In December of 2013, to move forward on this vision, Plum Creek submitted the Envision Alachua Sector Plan (EASP) to local officials for review. The EASP includes a request to amend the Alachua County Comprehensive Plan to set aside an additional 29,325 acres—resulting in a total of more than 52,190 acres—for conservation, agriculture and open space. The EASP also provides the much needed land to support employment-oriented, mixed-use development (EOMU), which can accommodate 30,000 jobs in eastern Alachua County over the next 50 years.
WHO IS PLUM CREEK?
Plum Creek is one of the largest private landowners in the nation with approximately seven million acres of timberlands in the United States. Our core business is timber, and in Florida, we own 418,000 acres in 21 counties. Nearly 95,000 acres of those lands are permanently conserved. In Alachua County, Plum Creek is the largest private landowner with 65,000 acres, and about 24,000 acres are permanently conserved. Plum Creek believes giving back to our communities is not only responsible, but the right thing to do. Across the country and in Alachua County, the Plum Creek Foundation gives away thousands of dollars in grant funds to support nonprofit organizations that improve our citizens’ quality of life.
The Envision Alachua Goal for the Economy
To create economic development opportunities that support and enhance the innovation economy, provide job opportunities and services at all economic levels and ensure a robust and
- Accommodate 30,000 potential jobs over 50 years in eastern Alachua County, where the employment need is the greatest.
- Attract advanced manufacturing and agricultural related jobs, many of which require only a high school diploma or some specific training, overcoming jobs competition that residents face with college students.
- Assist to increase the tax base, and allow for the services and recreation opportunities close by that support a vibrant community.
- Enable Alachua County, the University of Florida and Santa Fe College and the region to compete in the state, national and global economies.
Well I hope this provided enough of an overview of the plan to pique your interest to learn more about the topic and delve further in to the details, pros and cons of the plan. Either way, this discussion will affect generations of Alachua County citizens for years to come whether it happens or not… so GET INVOLVED!