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Compromise met in land-use squabble

Site was pitched to Blue Origin for space manufacturing company

By Dinah Voyles Pulver

Oak Hill officials have reached a compromise with those who challenged a change to the city's land-use plan initially aimed at landing a space manufacturing company.

β€œIt works out well for both the city and the other parties involved,” Mayor Doug Gibson said last week.

In May, over the objections of state and local Audubon Society members, the City Commission unanimously approved a landuse change for 423 acres known as the Unatin property. Regional economic development officials were trying to convince the private commercial space flight company Blue Origin to build a manufacturing facility on the site.

In hopes of winning the landuse change and attracting the facility, code-named Project Panther, economic development officials conducted a series of meeting with Oak Hill residents touting the benefits of higher paying jobs and municipal water and sewer lines the project could bring to the community. But, while the proposed land-use change was moving through the system, the company found an alternative site in Brevard County on land leased to Space Florida by Kennedy Space Center.

The commission approved the land-use change anyway, hoping to attract other economic development to the city. After it was approved, Clay Henderson, an attorney and longtime local environmental advocate, challenged the approval, filing a request for a state administrative hearing on behalf of nearby property owner David Hall.

That triggered a series of discussions between Henderson, the city attorney and other officials that resulted in a compromise on the agenda for tonight's commission meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.

Henderson was able to win concessions from the city that will require a 200-foot-wide buffer around any planned construction on the site,City Clerk Kohn Evans said. It also adjusts the maximum height of building allowed on the property from 100 feet to 75 feet.

β€œI'm happy with what we worked out,” Henderson said.

Gibson is pleased the city was


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