NEWBERRY ‒ The Newberry City Commission has agreed to drop two counts against Alachua County in a lawsuit. During the April 25 Newberry City Commission meeting, Newberry City Attorney Scott Walker provided an update on the City’s case against the Alachua County Charter Review Commission that has been pending since Oct. 26, 2020. The City of Newberry, along with the Cities of Alachua and Archer, filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief against Alachua County and the Charter Review Commission.

The lawsuit raised three separate counts asking the court for relief from an amendment to the Alachua County Charter establishing a Growth Management Area to be managed by Alachua County instead of by municipalities, thereby removing the individual cities from the ability for Home Rule which would affect such matters as property use and zoning.

Count I of the Complaint was an action for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief alleging that the ballot title and summary for the charter amendment were defective pursuant to Section 101.161(1), Florida Statutes.

A summary judgment hearing was held Dec. 14, 2020, and the court granted the County’s motion for summary judgment and denied the plaintiffs’ (Alachua, Newberry and Archer’s) joint motion for summary judgment on Count I of the complaint.

On Feb. 22, 2021, plaintiffs filed a joint motion for reconsideration and on March 2, 2021, the plaintiffs filed their notice of appeal, which is currently pending in the First District Court of Appeal (DCA).

At a status conference on Monday, April 18, 2022, summary judgment hearings were set for Oct. 17, 2022 and trial was set for Dec. 1, 2022 on Count II and Count III of the complaint. Lead counsel David Theriaque advised the plaintiffs to await the appellate court’s ruling on Count I prior to proceeding with Counts II and III.

Based on a recommendation from Walker, the Newberry City Commission voted 4-1 to voluntarily withdraw Counts II and III with Commissioner Tim Marden dissenting. Walker had pointed out that those two Counts “are not our strongest arguments.”

Upon ruling of the appellate court on Count I, Walker said he would advise the Commission on the best way to proceed with Counts II and III at that time.

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