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Drought may halt growth
City: Projects will get already promised water
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Developers already promised water will not be left high and dry, though Gainesville has resolved to curb new development in an effort to cut water use.

The city is working to cut its water use to 15.82 million gallons per day, but has not quite reached the state-mandated target.

Developments that have been promised water — and could be approved by the city in the next few months — could make meeting the target more difficult.

As part of Gainesville’s drought response, the city resolved to stop accepting new developments until the city’s original water withdrawal permit is restored.

The resolution became effective when it was approved on Nov. 6. But the city’s planning and appeals board still will recommend approval of some developments promised water availability before the resolution was passed.

At its Nov. 13 meeting, the city’s planning board recommended approval of Cleveland Highway LLC’s request to annex 9.35 acres for a 20-lot gated subdivision on Riverview Drive.

When developers went before the board, they had a commitment letter dated June 14 promising water to the proposed subdivision, said Rusty Ligon, Gainesville’s planning director.

There are other proposed developments that have been promised water, but have not yet been before the planning board. Those developments won’t likely be denied by the board, even though the city is trying to cut water use, said Kelly Randall, public utilities director.

"Anything that we had already committed to. We’re not going to go back on our word," Randall said.

There are other possible developments that could add to the city’s water use, too. The city has almost 4,000 water lots of record, or lots in existing subdivisions, that have been promised water but are not yet under construction, Randall said. The utility does not plan to go back on its word.

"Once we’ve committed to it, we’ve committed to it," Randall said.

Developers will only be denied based on water supply if they ask for a commitment from the utility after Nov. 6, he said. In effect, that means a couple of months before that part of the city’s drought response kicks in.

It should take about two months for the developments already promised water to complete the approval process. The curbing of new developments will start "as soon as those work through the system," Randall said.

Still, proposed developments such as the Cleveland Highway subdivision will take a while to start adding to the city’s daily water consumption.

The approval process for that development is still ongoing, and it could be several months before the subdivision becomes another drain on the city’s water supply.

There is usually an 18-month time period between the time when a development is approved and when water is used on the property, Randall said.

"At this point, they’d be several months away from starting their first house," Ligon said.

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