On February 21st, the Leon County Commission voted 5-2 to approve an ordinance to change the zoning classification of 32.18 acres located at 3762 Capital Circle NW from Residential Acre (RA) to Single-Family Detached Residential (R-2).
Previously, Northwoods Baptist Church requested the zoning to be changed to Residential District (R-3), which would have allowed the entire site to have the same zoning — 8 units per acre.
On June 7th 2022, the Planning Commission approved the church’s request for rezoning the land to R-3 and found the request consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. However, the church subsequently requested the rezoning to be R-2 which is a lower density that allows 4.84 units pre acre.
Northwoods Baptist Church owns an 85.31-acre parcel that has two different low-density residential zoning districts. The majority of the property is zoned single and two family residential (R-3). Currently, the 32.18 portion of the land is zoned Residential Acre (RA) which allows 1 unit per acre. The only housing type allowed in R-2 is single family.
During the meeting, Commissioner Rick Minor stated, “Whatever the result of the vote tonight, some people will be upset.” He also noted how difficult it was to make his decision to vote against staff recommendations stating, “This is probably one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make.” Minor continued, “The neighbors are deeply concerned with the effects of that request, and they have the right to speak up and make those concerns known and advocate for their positions.”
Commissioner Brian O’Keefe believes that the neighbors’ preference and what they planned their home and neighbors to be like, among other things were not factored into this zoning decision.
Commissioner Brian Welch stated, “I don’t have the luxury of subjectivity in this position. I have to look at the facts as they lie.” He went on to say, “As frustrating as it may be for the impacted residents, the applicant has rights as well.” He continued stating, “We are not providing competent and substantial evidence. I think we are putting our county attorney and our legal staff and potentially our board in legal jeopardy. Welch also spoke on how he thought the comments from the neighbors came from an emotional place, and pointed out that he doesn’t agree with the neighbors’ fears of rising crime as a result of a zoning change.