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Planners approve latest version of Limestone mixed-use development
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Developer Wendell Starke speaks to members of the Gainesville Planning and Appeals Board on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018. The planning board gave its unanimous support for Starke's mixed-use project proposed off Limestone Parkway in Gainesville. City Council will vote on the matter Oct. 2. (Photo by Joshua Silavent)

A proposed mixed-use development at the intersection of Limestone and Jesse Jewell parkways in Gainesville received unanimous support from the city’s planning and appeals board on Tuesday, Sept.11, setting the stage for a final vote by the City Council next month.

The proposal includes 189,400 square feet of office, restaurant, retail and hotel space.

Planning board members OK’d an annexation request for approximately 75 acres, which will allow the city to extend water and sewer infrastructure on the property, and established a zoning of “planned unit development.”

The residential part of the development would have 33 single-family homes and up to 252 apartments.

The property is currently wooded and adjacent to the New Holland Market Kroger-anchored shopping center.

Several residents were in attendance again on Tuesday expressing their concerns about the impact the development might have on local schools, traffic and the historic character of the New Holland neighborhood, which has century-old homes.

The project was tabled at a planning meeting in May.

In June, the application came before the planning board with a significant change — the residential portion of the development was scrapped, reducing the size of the property and removing access from Lakeview Drive.

The planning board approved that request.

However, in an email sent to city officials on June 28, Wendell Starke of Limestone Greenway LLC said he wanted to withdraw his proposal because Gainesville had declined to provide sewer service to the portion of the property that would not be annexed into the city.

Starke then returned to the original plan despite the protests of some local residents.

Odis Sisk, a certified arborist with New Urban Forestry who owns property near the proposed development site, submitted petitions signed by neighbors opposing the project.

Sisk said the timeline for developing a project of this size could be burdensome on local residents for many years.

“There are still issues with the residential part of it,” he added.

Starke said he would accept the current conditions placed on the project that require environmental buffers and roadway improvements for access to the property.

Access from Lakeview Drive has been restricted to just the single-family homes rather than the commercial and luxury apartment portion of the development. Those parts will be reached by entrances off Limestone and Jesse Jewell parkways.

Starke told planning board members on Tuesday that the project was always meant to be “first class” and that the development fits with growth along the Interstate 985 corridor.

Reporter Megan Reed contributed to this report.

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