Neighborhood Gate Request Rejected by Newberry Commission

Article Courtesy of  Alachua County Today


Published July 28, 2020


NEWBERRY – A petition by the Oak View Village Homeowners Association (HOA) to close Southwest 251st Way at Southwest 15 Avenue failed to pass during the July 13 Commission meeting. The HOA request specified placement of an unlocked gate across Southwest 251st Way as a means to deter speeding drivers.

Although the roadway is owned and maintained by the HOA, Oak View Village is not a gated community. Since the road has been open to public traffic, the City has the right to determine whether the road should be closed or continue to be open to non-residential traffic.

The potential road closure has been discussed at several previous City meetings. Oak View Village HOA President Naim Erched, Vice-President Sherry Starbird and other residents encouraged Commissioners to approve the gate, which Erched said he would open and close himself each day.

Planning and Economic Development Director Bryan Thomas made the initial presentation to Commissioners and recommended against approval of the gate as a traffic deterrent. The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office conducted a traffic study while school was still in session and their report did not support the HOA’s claim that cars were speeding through that section of the subdivision.

During discussion Erched said that the temporary gate would be in place for one year to see how that worked. If it worked well, he said the HOA would consider an electronic gate for the future. Commissioner Monty Farnsworth moved to approve the gate and his motion was seconded by Commissioner Rick Coleman. Although they both specified there would be no time period conditions, the city attorney pointed out that the resolution was written with language that the issue would be reviewed in two years.

Further discussion as to whether the time period should be six months, a year or some other sunset date confused the issue further. In addition, comments made by Thomas, Commissioner Rocky McKinley and a call in from the City’s Planning Board member Linda Woodcock all suggested that other ways to curb speeding should be employed prior to installing a gate.

All three suggested that speed limit signs be installed within the subdivision by the HOA along with the implementation of other traffic calming devices. Woodcock said that a traffic signal at that intersection may also be required. Considerations involving emergency vehicle turnaround space and emergency access were also discussed.

Additional concerns that the City was not following its own Land Development Regulations (LDRs), which could put Newberry in an untenable situation down the road, also impacted deliberations.

Following the lengthy discussion and comments by all concerned parties, the earlier motion and second were voted on with Commissioners Marden, McKinley and Coleman voting no, despite the fact that Coleman had seconded the motion earlier.

Rather than Commissioners suggesting other options, Mayor Jordan Marlowe suggested the HOA meet again and let the City know how they plan to proceed with traffic calming.