MINUTES OF A REGULAR MEETING OF THE GILCHRIST COUNTY BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS HELD FEBRUARY 15, 1999.
The Gilchrist County Board of County Commissioners, in and for Gilchrist County, Florida, convened in a regular meeting on February 15, 1999, at 5:00 p.m., in the County Commissioner's Meeting Room, located in the Gilchrist County Courthouse, 112 South Main Street, Trenton, Florida, with the following members present to-wit:
Fred Wilkerson, Vice-chair
Sue B. Suggs
John Rance Thomas
Others in attendance were: Joseph W. Gilliam, Clerk of Circuit Court, Samuel A. Mutch, County Attorney, Sam Ferguson, Finance Director, Ron McQueen, EMA/County Coordinator, Sherree Pitzarell, Deputy Clerk, Allen Luzader, Building Department, John Ayers, Gilchrist County Journal, Emory Philman, Ben Lindsey, county residents
Commissioner Wilkerson announced that Chairman Durden is unable to attend today's meeting, due to a death in the family.
Minutes of the meetings held December 7th , December 22nd , and January 4th were unanimously approved, following a motion by Commissioner Bush, which was seconded by Commissioner Suggs. The motion passed unanimously.
Ms. Mindy Collier, Small County Technical Assistance Program, stopped by the Board meeting to say hello and remind the Board that their program is available to assist the county when needed.
Mr. Gilliam presented a letter from the Suwannee River Economic Council, requesting the Board's support for their application for Farmer's Home Administration funding. They are seeking funds for housing weatherization and preservation. Commissioner Suggs recommended that the Board delay action until Ms. Terry, SREC executive director, can attend the meeting to answer some questions the Board has about the transportation for disadvantaged program.
Three Rivers Regional Library System has submitted their quarterly reports and are available to the Board.
The Board complimented the monthly news letter being published and circulated to county employees.
Public Hearing- Proposed Ordinance Prohibiting the Harvest of Logs from Rivers:
The Board previously agreed to hold this public hearing to consider the prohibition of harvesting logs from the river using county property and boat ramps. The Board expressed concern over liability and the amount of time the boat ramps would be used for hauling the logs out of the river.
Mr. Emory Philman and Mr. Ben Lindsey, local divers, spoke to the Board, stating that it is not their intention to tie up the county's boat ramps. Mr. Philman explained that these logs date back from the late 1800's through the 1920's and many are marked by landowners. These logs were floated to saw mills, however, some were sunken. Mr. Philman presented a drawing depicting their proposed operation, which would require the logs to be lifted from the bottom and pulled with a boat to the boat ramp. Once at the boat ramp, the log would be loaded on a trailer, similar to the way a boat is loaded on a trailer. Mr. Lindsey stated that only two applications have been submitted to harvest logs from Florida's rivers. If a log is marked, they must contact the owner prior to removing the log from the river. According to Mr. Philman, the state application stipulates that only a two man crew can work under one permit. Commissioner Suggs asked what kind of liability insurance they have to carry. Mr. Philman replied that the state requires that they be held harmless on their liability insurance and they are willing to name the county as an insured as well. Mr. Mutch stated that if the Board allows logs to be harvested, the manner in which Mr. Philman has outlined is a good method because they will not be using heavy equipment. The Board could also permit the activity, requiring certain conditions. Mr. Philman stated that they have not formally approached the Dixie County Commission, however, a couple of members have indicated they have no problem with the proposal. According to Mr. Philman, the state requires that they submit the coordinates of where the logs are located and prior notification of when they intend to retrieve it and supply their representatives a ride to the location. The law enforcement agency monitoring the activity is the Florida Marine Patrol. Mr. Mutch recommends that this activity be licensed, based upon a nominal fee, and based upon proof of insurance, naming the county as an insured, and limited to a tandem trailer. Larger scale operations could be prohibited. Mr. Philman recommends that the operation be limited to certain days of the week and a limited amount of time for loading so that the boat ramps are not tied up for long periods of time. The state permit is only good for one year, once issued. Commissioner Suggs made a motion to authorize Mr. Mutch to meet with Mr. Philman to draw up specifications for the removal of logs. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas. Vote of the Board was unanimous.
Public Hearing- Ordinance to amend the Land Development Regulations (LDR 98-7) Regarding Landfills and Related Facilities:
Mr. Mutch read the short title of proposed Ordinance 99-01 aloud. This ordinance amends section 2.1, entitled definitions of public buildings and facilities by deleting solid waste facilities, by adding solid waste transfer stations, solid waste processing plants and recycling facilities and land clearing debris disposal facilities and by adding language to clarify that landfills are not considered public buildings and facilities; amending section 4.2.10, entitled future land use plan amendment for public buildings and facilities. Following discussion, Commissioner Suggs made a motion to adopt the ordinance. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Bush and unanimously approved. A copy of Ordinance 99-01 is on file in the Clerk's Office.
Mr. Mutch reported that he met with Mr. Gilliam, Mr. McQueen and Mr. Ferguson to discuss impact fees. Discussion to date has included both road improvements and capital improvements for impact fees. Based upon the latest figures of trips per day by the Department of Transportation, the county's previous figures may be increased, thereby justifying the increase. Additionally, the previous cost figures were based on 6 miles of needed improvements. Currently there are no impact fees for public facilities, however, the Board has identified between 6.5 to 7.5 million dollars of needed improvements and or/expansions (i.e. court facilities, jail facilities). Mr. Mutch will present a fee range at the next meeting.
Commissioner Suggs made a motion to hold a workshop on March 4th at 6:00 p.m. to discuss intensive agriculture. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas and vote of the Board was unanimous.
Following discussion, Commissioner Suggs made a motion to authorize Mr. Mutch to proceed with foreclosure action on the Gallagher SHIP property. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas and unanimously approved.
Sheree Lancaster, School Board attorney, sent the survey and deed for the property they wish to purchase for $7500 from the county at the alternative school site. Commissioner Bush moved to accept the School Board's offer and authorize the chairman to sign the necessary documents. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas and unanimously approved.
Ms. Evelyn Sapp, special public defender, has requested to have her contract with the county voided. She would like enter into a contract for the attorney for the Guardian Ad Litem program and therefore would not be able to take any dependency cases. She has expressed concern because she and other special public defenders have been given 5 or 6 dependency cases and little or no juvenile or criminal cases to date. Mr. Mutch feels this needs to be discussed with Judge Philman and the legislative delegation because the attorney's bids were based upon the fact that they could do the criminal cases at the contract amount. Dependency cases take a great deal of time, sometimes years. Ms. Sapp is willing to forego being paid the last billing if the county will let her out of her contract. In the third circuit, no one would take the dependency cases so they have decided to hire two attorneys for $30,000 per year each. Commissioner Suggs made a motion to release Ms. Sapp from her contract and negotiate with the two attorneys Ms. Sapp refers in her letter. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Bush. Vote of the Board was unanimous.
Public Hearing- Special Permit 98-01, Royster Pit Mining:
Mr. Mutch reminded the Board that testimony was taken at the last meeting and the Board tabled any consideration until this evening. At that meeting Commissioner Thomas' motion was to require Mr. Royster to provide written information that he met the conditions required for the issuance of a special permit, and that included showing that he either had or did not need permits or licenses from the various state agencies, including the Suwannee River Water Management District, the Department of Environmental Protection and, any federal agency. The motion also included that Mr. Royster was to prepare a reclamation plan for the site. The testimony has been closed and the appropriate action is to open the floor to Mr. Royster to present the evidence he has, permit cross examination of Mr. Royster and then go back into deliberations. Mr. Royster acknowledging that he is still under oath presented a copy of the permit he received from SRWMD, marked Applicant's Exhibit # Two (2), along with a letter from the Department of Environmental Protection, Applicant's Exhibit # Three (3), which states the permitting of this activity will be done by the SRWMD. The permit states that digging depth shall be no more than 15 feet. Mr. Royster stated that the water table in that area is 65 feet, therefore excavating 15 feet of fill dirt will leave 50 feet from the water table. The maximum surface area shall be 10 acres, however if 100 feet is left around the digging area for final grading, only 6 to 7 acres will actually be excavated. The site is over 800 feet from the nearest residence. Mr. Royster stated that the owners of the bed and breakfast have expressed concern about dust being a problem on the road and he has agreed to put out milled asphalt on 900 feet, to eliminate the dust. Concern was also expressed about noise and he has purchased a new back hoe, which is considerably quieter. Ms. Bobbie Wray Suggs has submitted a letter to the SRWMD contesting the permit. SRWMD responded stating that the excavating activity has nothing to do with the re-zoning of the property. Mr. Mutch explained that if the Board of County Commissioners issues a permit and then the SRWMD fails to permit the operation, the Board's permit would be void. According to Mr. Royster, SRWMD has issued a permit, however, they have asked him not to excavate until the Board makes a decision. Mr. Royster submitted a letter from Florida Power indicating they do not have a problem with the proposed operation and their ability to access their power lines, Applicant's Exhibit # Four (4). In order to have fuel on the property, he is purchasing a storage building to store fuel and equipment, Applicant's Exhibit # Five (5). Mr. Royster submitted a reclamation plan as requested by the Board, Applicant's Exhibit # Six (6). He intends to plant the area in pines, within 18 months after the excavation operation has ended. Commissioner Wilkerson asked Mr. Royster how long he intends to mine the area and Mr. Royster replied that the SRWMD permit is for two years. Upon questioning by Commissioner Suggs, Mr. Royster agreed to abandon and reclaim his existing pit within six months after he receives a permit for his proposed excavation site. Commissioner Suggs asked if the County could require a bond to ensure the area is reclaimed property. Mr. Mutch stated that the Board has the ability to either approve the special permit, approve with conditions, or deny the permit. If approved with conditions, those conditions would have to be reasonable conditions, and requiring a bond of either 100%-150% of the cost of reclamation would be reasonable.
Commissioner Wilkerson asked if anyone present would like to cross examine Mr. Royster on the items brought to the Board this evening.
Duncan Jones, attorney representing Lacy Country Manor (bed and breakfast) asked questions about the map Mr. Royster provided and asked if it was marked as an exhibit. Commissioner Suggs replied that it was marked as an exhibit during the first public hearing. Mr. Jones stated that the proposed site is part of a twenty acre parcel and asked if the twenty acre parcel had been subdivided. Mr. Royster replied that it has not been subdivided. Mr. Jones asked if notice was mailed to property owners that are contiguous to the 20 acre parcel. Mr. Royster replied that he did not. Mr. Jones stated that at the entrance of the property, near the road where the milled asphalt will be applied, someone erected two indicators of notice that reads "zoning change". Mr. Royster stated that he did not place the signs there; they were placed by the Building Department. Mr. Jones stated that Florida statute 125.66 requires notice that relates to the changes Mr. Royster stated regarding the amount of property involved in this permit issue. Mr. Mutch stated that the Board needs to determine whether Mr. Jones questions is related to the testimony given by Mr. Royster tonight. Mr. Jones stated that at the first meeting, there was a question about exactly where the ten acres is located and it is a part of a twenty acre parcel. He contends that the location and exact legal description is relevant and the applicant has referred to the location at both hearings. Mr. Jones stated that the applicant spoke to the number of trucks which will be entering and leaving the property. Mr. Jones has the Planning and Zoning Board memorandum, page three, and it refers to 160 trucks per day. Mr. Jones asked Mr. Royster exactly how many trucks will be leaving the pit location. Mr. Royster replied that it takes 20 minutes to load each truck and on a busy day, he anticipates 10 loads. The Board replied that during the first meeting, 35 loads or a maximum of 70 trips was indicated. Mr. McQueen stated that the 160 trips per day was referred to in the concurrency assessment by the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, which is based on the standard for that road and how many trips are generated from a similar operation based on statistical analysis, rather than actual numbers. Mr. Jones feels that proper notice was not given and questions whether or not it is a zoning change. Mr. Jones contends that mining is not listed as an agricultural activity in the comprehensive plan and the result of that is a change in the plan by allowing the mine. That being the case, two meetings are required as well as notice to contiguous property owners. Commissioner Wilkerson asked Mr. Mutch if he feels the property owners were properly noticed. Mr. Mutch replied that he has not reviewed the process in which the property owners were notified. Mr. Mutch sworn in Mr. Allen Luzader of the Building Department. Upon questioning, Mr. Luzader stated that he placed the sign that states "zoning change" near the property, and there is a piece of paper attached to the sign that states exactly what is being proposed. Commissioner Suggs pointed out that this is not a mining operation, but rather an excavation operation. Mr. McQueen stated that the Planning Council provides the notices on behalf of the County. A copy of the legal notice is posted on the sign that states "zoning change".
Ms. Patrice Boyce, attorney for Ginnie Springs Inc., stated that the applicant did not specify the type of back fill material that will be used in the reclamation plan and asked Mr. Royster to identify the material. Mr. Royster replied that there will be no backfill. Ms. Boyce asked how he would know that he has not exposed the top of the Floridan aquifer as he digs. Mr. Royster stated that there is a 50 foot buffer between where he stops digging and where the water table is located. Ms. Boyce asked if Mr. Royster would be offering the county financial assurance should a claim be made against the county. Mr. Royster stated that he has a liability policy and can name the County as an insured.
Anita Beard asked if the right-of-way is next to the chain link fence which divides her property from the proposed excavation site. Mr. Royster replied that it is. Ms. Beard is the owner of the bed and breakfast and claims that her drive-way is being washout out since Mr. Royster placed his drive-way at a higher elevation. Mr. Royster stated that he was not aware of any problems she has experienced with her drive-way. Ms. Beard is concerned about the trucks running on that road because the condition of the road affects her business.
Mr. Peter Butt asked Mr. Royster if he filed a Notice of Intent to Mine Other Resources form with the Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Mine Reclamation. Commissioner Wilkerson stated that this excavation operation does not fall under the mining laws. Mr. Butt stated that he called that agency and was told that it does. Mr. Butt placed into evidence written information from DEP, regarding mine reclamation, referred to as Peter Butt's Exhibit # One (1). Mr. Butt asked that a condition be placed on this operation that the initial elevation be marked so that it is known when 15 feet is reached.
Ms. Beard spoke again stating that she was never notified of this proposed operation. There followed discussion regarding the access road and if there may be an alternative route of access.
There appears to be another road that accesses the property and the Board agreed to call Mr. Fowler, who lives on that road to determine if he has any objections to Mr. Royster using that road to access the property.
Chairman Wilkerson placed a call to Mr. Fowler, via speaker phone to ascertain if Mr. Fowler has any objections to Mr. Royster's use of that road to access the property. Mr. Fowler replied that he has six children and they play near the road. Due to the safety issue involved, Mr. Fowler stated that he could not give permission for the road to be used.
Mr. Duncan Jones read chapter 125.66 regarding public notices and hearings for county governments. He objects to the notice that was given by the County, including the legal advertisement. It is his opinion that this type of proposed activity is a separate zoning category, which requires different advertisement. Mr. Mutch feels Mr. Jones has a very good argument as to whether or not this is a zoning change. The LDR's are complicated and within the agriculture districts there are permitted uses and permitted uses by special exception. Nowhere is there anything in the agricultural districts that specify that mining or excavation of soil is a permitted use or a use by special exception. Section 14.2 specifies the uses by special permit and mining or excavation of soil is permitted in any district with the exception of environmentally sensitive or urban districts. The issue facing the Board is that by requesting a special permit are you changing the actual list of the permitted conditional or prohibitive use within a zoning classification. Because mining and the excavation of soils is not a permitted use or use by special exception and because it's only within another section of the code, the question is whether or not it is a permitted use. If this is a change of a use within that zoning district, then we have to meet criteria, which is set forth in Florida Statute 125.66. It appears that we have met those criteria as long as we have advertised as set forth in the statute. The Board recessed to review the advertisement that was placed in the local newspaper. After reviewing the advertisement, Mr. Mutch stated that it does not meet the requirements of chapter 125.66 of the Florida Statutes, which requires that the advertisement be at least two columns wide and 10 inches long. If the Board elects to make a decision tonight, the decision could be challenged in light of the advertising requirements. It is Mr. Mutch's recommendation that the Board hold two additional public hearings after proper advertisement. Commissioner Suggs moved to re-advertise and hold two public hearings. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas and vote of the Board was unanimous. Mr. Mutch explained that no one thought this was a change in the prohibitive uses within a district until Mr. Jones pointed it out. Because of the way in which the LDR's are written, we may be found deficient in our advertising.
The list of firms were narrowed down to two and after site visits, the committee recommends Architect Design Group. Commissioner Suggs made a motion to authorize the committee to enter into competitive negotiations with them, adding Mr. Mutch to the committee. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas and unanimously approved.
The Sheriff submitted a check to the Board in the amount of $31,539.20 which represents a reimbursement from the catastrophic medical insurance (for inmates). There are two outstanding bills for this inmate's health care, which will be submitted after receipt of an itemized billing.
The Sheriff reported that the generator at the Sheriff's Office was struck by lightening, causing the communications system to shut down. The service call was $1375 and the labor and parts was $1625 for a total cost of $3000. There will be another bill for servicing a different generator as well. Commissioner Suggs made a motion to authorize payment of bill and check into a maintenance agreement with Ring Power. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas and unanimously approved.
The Sheriff previously submitted a request to purchase five radar units for the Highway Patrol. Since that time, he has learned that the Park Manager at Hart Springs needs a radio and the Bell Volunteer Fire Department is in need of two portable radios. The Sheriff's Department needs 12 batteries for portable radios as well. He would like to use the Traffic Surcharge Funds to make these purchases, and reduce the amount of radar units from five to one. Portable radios cost about $600 each. Mr. Gilliam reported that there is $3800 in the capital surcharge fund. Commissioner Suggs stated that the Bell VFD is a city volunteer fire department, rather than a county fire department. There followed discussion regarding the Bell VFD and whether or not the Town of Bell provides funding. Commissioner Thomas moved to purchase one radar unit for the Highway Patrol, a portable radio for Hart Springs and the 12 batteries for the Sheriff's portables. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Bush. Vote of the Board was unanimous. The Board asked Mr. Gilliam to invite someone from the Bell VFD to come to the next meeting in order to determine the amount of funding provided to them by the Town of Bell.
Mr. Gilliam presented the following SHIP loan applications, which have been recommended for approval by the Loan Review Committee:
Applicant Income SHIP Amt. Total Cost Bank Type of Project
L. Jones Very low $22,500 $55,600 Tri-County New Construction
C. Williams Low $17,500 $61,215 Capital City Purchase
A. Scott Moderate $10,000 $63,770 Tri-County New Construction
J. Shea Very low $22,500 $46,000 Capital City Purchase/rehab
B. Potter Very low $22,500 $22,500 None Rehab existing
V. Weeks Low $17,500 $22,500 None Rehab existing
S. Kearney Very low $ 4,468 $ 4,468 None Emergency
Mr. Gilliam added that these applications have been approved by the Committee subject to the Building Department's review of the proposed work and appraisals. Commissioner Bush made a motion to approve the applications. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Suggs and unanimously approved.
Mr. Gilliam spoke to the Board about a special assessment that was imposed on a parcel of property, owned by Donald P. Lewis, which had no livable dwelling unit on it. The error can be corrected for this year's assessment, however, in the past, it has not been the Board's policy to refund prior year's assessments because it is up to the individual to review their bills prior to paying them. Commissioner Suggs made a motion to deny the prior year's assessments. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas and unanimously approved.
Mr. Gilliam presented the final plat for R & L Subdivision (a minor subdivision). Commissioner Suggs made a motion to approve the plat, authorizing the chairman, clerk and attorney to sign the plat. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas. Vote of the Board was unanimous.
Mr. Ferguson, Finance Director, presented a purchase order for the purchase of two pressure washers. One is needed at the transfer station and recycling center and the other is needed for the courthouse and other buildings. The cost is $1585 each for a total of $3170. Commissioner Suggs made a motion to approve the purchase order. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas and unanimously approved.
EMA/County Coordinator's Report:
Mr. McQueen presented a contract between the Suwannee River Water Management District and the County for the installation of a seawall at Hart Springs park. Commissioner Suggs made a motion to approve the contract for $20,351.53 and authorize chairman Durden to sign the contract. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Bush and vote of the Board was unanimous.
Mr. McQueen met with Vera Lindsey, along with Charlie Houdder and Jerry Scarborough of the SRWMD, to discuss the purchase of 199 acres. Currently, a sale price is being negotiated, and according to SRWMD, they must pay the appraised price. They would like to lease the property back to the County for $1 for 99 years to maintain the property. The District would like to build a permanent campground with a new water and sewer system and give a 60 foot easement by the fence line to the end of the county road. They want to know if the Board agrees with their concept. Of the 199 acres, 60 acres are out of the 100 year flood plain. Commissioner Suggs made a motion to approve the concept proposed by the District. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas and vote of the Board was unanimous.
Mr. McQueen received a quote from Ring Power, which is a state contract price of $42,530 with a five year maintenance agreement for a four wheel drive back hoe. This price reflects $2000 subtracted from the total cost from FEMA reimbursement for the use of the machine at Hart Springs park. Commissioner Bush moved to purchase the back hoe. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas and vote of the Board was unanimous.
The EMS director has submitted a request to change the Christmas holiday dates for her department. The Board's designated holidays are December 23rd and 24th . Ms. Walker requests that her department observe December 24th and December 25th . Commissioner Suggs made a motion to approve the holiday change for the EMS department only. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas and unanimously approved.
Mr. McQueen presented an equipment loan policy for the County Extension Office, which requires a deposit for any equipment loaned to individuals from the County Agent. Commissioner Suggs made a motion, seconded by Commissioner Bush to approve the policy and form. The motion passed unanimously.
Mr. McQueen reported that the Building Department issued 34 permits for the month of January and collected a total of $5200 in impact fees.
Three member's terms on the Code Enforcement Board have expired. They are Lawson Vest, Jack Scheall and Robert Sullivan. Each member has expressed a desire to continue serving, however, it is the Board's policy to advertise vacancies. Commissioner Suggs made a motion to advertise for the vacancies. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Bush and vote of the Board was unanimous.
Mr. McQueen presented information related to the Drug Free Workplace Policy, asking the Board to define and adopt a definition for accidents (work related). Without a clear definition of accidents, some employees may not be tested when indicated and others may be tested inconsistently and/or inappropriately. Mr. McQueen recommends the following: anyone involved in the accident was injured or killed and/or a medical or liability claim was (or could later be) filed by anyone involved. Commissioner Bush made a motion to adopt the definition as presented. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Thomas and vote of the Board was unanimous.
Mr. McQueen reported that the Wacasassa VFD pumper truck is no longer operational and the cost of repairs are too high, given the value of the truck. Fanning Springs VFD may have one they can borrow until a replacement can be found. The Board asked Commissioner Suggs to look for a replacement.
FRED WILKERSON, VICE CHAIR
JOSEPH W. GILLIAM, CLERK