On December 18th, the City Commission approved a request to grant a variance to Chapter 5 of the Land and Development Code for construction of Phase I of the Northeast Gateway Project.
The request was approved by a vote of 3 in favor, with Commissioners Matlow and Porter opposed. The variance was requested by Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency to allow construction of a roadway in a floodplain and wetland area located near the Welaunee Toe-East Planned Unit Development.
Chapter 5 of the Land and Development Code authorizes linear infrastructure projects, such as water, road and sewer systems, by government entities to seek variances from the Code. As in this current situation, projects seeking a variance with more than 2 acres of development activity within a conservation or preservation area must request approval by the City Commission.
The request made to the Commission was to allow 5.80 acres of a preservation and wetland area for roadway construction for the Northeast Gateway Project. To mitigate the impact to the conservation area, the project proposed designating an area of land greater than 5.80 acres in size into a perpetual conservation easement which otherwise would not be required to be preserved.
The conservation area would provide an additional habitat buffer along the western boundary of the remaining floodplain and wetland area. Upon completion of the project, the conservation easement would be turned over to the City.
According to staff, approval of the variance will enable the project to proceed with the Environmental Permit application, which, once issued, will allow for construction to commence on Phase I of the Northeast Gateway Project.