Thursday, August 31, 2006

Glades Meets On Zoning, Farm Animals And More


By Donna Storter Long

MOORE HAVEN, FLORIDA (August 28, 2006)  -- One of two Glades County Commission public hearings this week drew input from participating citizens in the audience, and along with a code enforcement issue brought before the Board are true indications that Glades County is in transition as was so aptly stated by Commissioner Echols.

The first hearing passed with minimal attention other than the explanation that amendment to land development regulations is needed to protect residential areas from the blight of parked, stored and/or abandoned commercial vehicles.  A commercial vehicle by definition must be larger than one ton.

Spot Zoning Request Denied

The second hearing, continued from August 8, was the application for zoning change from Agriculture Residential (AR allows density of 1 unit per 5 acres) to Rural Family I (RF1 allows 1 unit per 1 acre) as requested by Lewis Hunter of 4555 Pollywog Drive SW near Muse.

His 4.72 acres property is 1 of 12 lots in High Pines Estates in southwest Glades County, and two adjoining landowners, Patricia Johnson and Leo Maness appeared and objected.  Other neighbors, James Reynolds and James & Penny Phillips, had written letters of objection noting the change would not just allow increased density, but could strain water tables and impact traffic into the subdivision which has no outlet road.

Mr. Lewis Hunter, the applicant, stated his intent was not to create a subdivision with increased density, but to utilize Glades County’s homestead ordinance to provide a single family home site for his son; his wife stated deed restrictions concerning splitting the lots expired in 2000, and that not all the neighbors were objecting.  Buckhead Ridge resident and Fire Chief Tom Vallee commented that even though he was  unfamiliar with the location of the property, he saw it as  an opportunity for needed growth.

 Recommendation for approval had been given by Glades County Development Board, formerly called Building Planning Zoning Board of Adjustment, noting the request was consistent with Glades County's future land use plan and land development regulations. The application was denied by 3-2 vote.   The Board's rejection was based on setting a precedent by spot zoning. Spot zoning is illegal but by reason of application, any change could be considered spot zoning if the change makes its use different from surrounding properties, which is often the case.

In Other Business

Hope Connections, recently appointed by the Area Agency on Aging to provide meals to seniors, was granted temporary use of the Doyle Conner Building for serving congregate meals. The kitchen and lobby of the Doyle Conner Building will be utilized weekdays for 3 months while they continue their search for a permanent facility to serve their 8-10 clients over age 65.  Commissioner Russell Echols noted that the Methodist Church had requested waiver of permit fees to construct a 10’x10’ concrete pad for a generator they were installing for their kitchen to serve in emergency situations.

Public Safety Director Bob Jones, in response to a contractors request for payment of invoices dated December 2004 and November 2005 for repairs to the Buckhead Ridge Volunteer Fire Department building, gained approval by the Board to notify contractor that invoices would be paid when inspections were completed and certificate of occupancy was provided.

Mr. Jones related the following history: Burtons, the licensed Contractor, obtained a permit for original construction of the roof overhang at Buckhead Ridge Fire Dept building; when it was destroyed by hurricane Jean in 2004, BHR Fire Chief Tom Vallee reported the damage and unsafe conditions to County Manager Jim Smith who authorized him to get it fixed because of danger of hanging metal debris in an area where school children congregated.  Vallee contacted Burtons who did the repair work for $2,860 without obtaining a permit thus it was not inspected before it was destroyed again by hurricane Wilma in October 2005. 

Again authorized by Chief Vallee he completed repairs for $4,226 without obtaining a permit and no inspection has been done.  The Board agreed with Mr. Jones assertation that the Board had in the past waived fees for permitting, but had never waived the requirement for permits.  The contractor is no longer licensed in Glades County and thus cannot now pull a permit.  Mrs. JoAnn Vallee noted that it would be a violation for that contractor to have a subcontractor now pull the permit.  The County has received FEMA and insurance compensation for the damages. The final vote 5-0 was to require permits, inspections and certificate of occupancy for approval to pay invoices.

Ortona Cemetery Project

Chairman K. S. “Butch” Jones requested Public Safety Director Bob Jones to report on the pavilion construction at Ortona Cemetery, of which Bob is Project Manager.  According to Bob the complete project through Phase II including landscaping, would not be completed for several months, probably in January.  He asked permission for County Manager Taylor to order the benches as it required about 4-6 weeks lead time.  No vote was taken as Commissioner Ward had objected to allowing this item as an amendment to the agenda and he questioned how much the project was going to totally cost.  Chairman Jones stated he would meet with Mr. Taylor and Bob Jones and work out the final cost estimates to complete the project.

 Donna Storter Long, who spearheaded the project in 2003, provided Chairman Jones with price quotes for benches made 100% from recycled materials noting that full payment for 100% recycled benches was authorized in the landfill’s recycling program grant.  She stated the original project was brought before the Board who asked her to get conceptual plans and costs and come back for approval of use of the one-cent tax money, which happened and is so noted in the official minutes record.  The initial figure (not including benches provided by the grant) for construction of the facility was $35,000.  However due to delays,  costs rose and the project was then divided into phases to keep the project costs below the $50,000 limit for bid requirements and Phase I construction of facility/sidewalks only was awarded to a contractor who later withdrew.                    

She said she had been told by Mr. Taylor that the pavilion would be available by November 11 for Veterans' Day services and she had conferred with Joe Flint (pavilion project committee member) and they felt that combining the pavilion dedication with the Veterans Service was preferable.  The current contract is for $72,000 but does not include benches.  Bob Jones later stated the facility itself, with benches, should be ready by Veterans Day, but the balance of Phase II would not. (Phase II includes landscaping, sprinkler system, underground utilities, and PA system.)

Neighbor Complains About 4H Animals

County Manager Wendell Taylor asked Community Development Director Larry Hilton to cover the issue of code enforcement complaint.  Hilton asked for the Board’s opinion concerning zoning ordinances because in years past 4H students had been allowed to have livestock on non-zoned properties, and he had recently received a complaint from a neighbor of some who had done that. Sandra Collins of Buckhead Ridge appealed to the Board to enforce zoning codes that prohibit farm animals in her neighborhood.  She said she appreciates 4H but her granddaughter suffers allergies and distressed breathing and her neighbor now has a horse for his son’s 4H project.  She complained their hayfield was not mowed for a long time and when it was mowed, it was very dusty, and she brought in an insect trap showing the many horseflies she had captured on her screens the last two days noting the health nuisance.

Linda Hale appeared stating she and her husband Roy put their son Marshall in 4H and bought the horse for therapy to help with his social and school problems due to his Attention Deficit Disorder; she said she is a registered nurse and she had not been informed of the girl’s allergies; she said their riding mower had been broken and they were unable to mow the field sooner, and that Tom Vallee had mowed it for them. 

Roy Hale, a sheriff's deputy, spoke and stated that he was approached with a suggestion that would make the allergies go away by August 28, but said he could not reveal who approached him nor the nature of the suggestion. He stated that he was doing this 4H project by the book and that equine therapy was recommended for his son.  He said the horse is a four months old Appaloosa filly and he was taking care of the animal as his son was not yet ready to handle the horse.

Another Buckhead Ridge resident Gerry Patent spoke and said she sells real estate and three things she was told when she started selling real estate in Buckhead ridge was 1) no barnyard animals 2) cannot live in campers and 3) can't have a business in the residential neighborhoods.  She said if the County is not going to enforce the rules then maybe she would get a flock of Alpacas and raise them.  She said the Okeechobee County 4H man told her "we don't dictate to the County" concerning allowing animals in residential areas; she said that 4H is a good organization but the area is zoned residential.

Mr. Carter stated he lives next to Mr. Hale and that on the 13th Mr. Hale pulled a gun on a neighbor, and had threatened other neighbors with a truck and that the Hale's lawn had not been mowed in a year.

The Board decided to have Mr. Hilton draft an ordinance for consideration and public hearing that would make some feasible provision for 4H animals without creating a neighborhood nuisance, but this code violation complaint is already in progress and must be dealt with properly.  Commissioner Echols noted his hesitancy to comment as most of his district is in the city of Moore Haven and the city has an ordinance that prohibits all farm animals.  Buckhead Ridge is not an incorporated city with ordinances thus all county zoning regulation ordinances are applicable there

County Attorney Richard Pringle was on conference call through out the meeting and had three items to mention.  1) He had sent Waste Management a letter concerning activating the interim hauling agreement and they had responded and met to discuss design of the transfer station and work out language of the agreement.  2) Mr. Pringle and Mr. Taylor had met with Florida Department of Environmental Protection concerning the permitting status of the landfill, and were talking with engineers to work thru the process.  3) Relative to the Zoning hearing mentioned above, he had looked at the County’s homestead ordinance 2003-2 and said he found some language may be inconsistent in that in one place it states the density requirements of land development regulations do not apply, and in another part says all zoning regulations do apply.  The Board approved having Mr. Hilton and Mr. Pringle look at it.  Commissioner Ward said the intent was never to exceed density but whatever was given to a child went towards the density.

Other attended business included:

1) Approved Manager Taylor's recommendation that the two Christmas holidays would be observed on Monday December 25 and Tuesday December 26.

2) Appointed Jeanette Peeples to the Glades County Library Board for five year term.

3) Approved including the position of Deputy County Manager for Community Development in the Senior Management Service Class of the Florida Retirement System while expressing approval of Mr. Hilton's job performance.

4) Accepted resealing bids presented by Doug Manke of the Road Department of which the county will pay $521,484 and the City of Moore Haven $105,784.

Mr. Taylor notified the Board of their scheduled joint meeting with the City of Moore Haven Council, and the Glades County District School Board to be held September 18, 2006 at 6PM at the school board meeting room.  He told the Board to begin considering how they will conduct business in December as the regular night meeting falls on December 25, the Christmas holiday.  He also said he would like to have the Board set a date for a workshop to work out a 5-10 year fiscal plan, and the Board gave assent.

2 comments:

  1. Patricia Hunter7:36 PM

    As the applicant in the zoning issue mentioned in this report, I have a couple of comments. As stated at the past two meetings of the Glades Co. BOCC, we never would have pursued this application had we not been told that it was consistent with the future land use plans. At the August 8th meeting, the BOCC requested a continuation of our application to clerify the requirements for RF-1. A review of that regulation revealed that our application could not be denied based on the wording of that regulation, yet the BOCC denied it anyway. It appears that Mr. Pringle commented regarding his findings, but it was after the BOCC had already voted. It also appears to me that the comprehensive future land use plans are only useful if they support the decision the BOCC desires to make.

    Additionally, if the letters from the neighbors mentioned in this article were read at the meetings, we did not hear them, or we would have addressed the concerns regarding traffic, etc. Our "neighborhood" was presented as an "island community" and a "retirement community" with "neighborhood rules". None of which are true.

    We urged all the commissioners to visit our neighborhood to see exactly what they were voting on.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Linda Hale9:23 AM

    Mr. Collins, not Mr. Carter, stated that Mr.Hale pulled a gun on a neighbor. That was a false allegation. There was an upcoming court appearance regarding the accusation about the gun. Mr. Collins threw that comment in to tarnish the caracter of Mr. Hale and to provoke him. The County Comminisioners would not allow Mr. Hale to respond to that statement by Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins failed to mention the other side of those incidents, particularly the fact that one of the neighbors that Mr. Hale "threatened" made a reference to his (the neighbor's) gun to Mr. Hale prior to Mr. Hale "threatening" him. These people have continually twisted the facts and have fabricated some colorful lies.
    There is so much more I have to say regarding the whole horse issue, but there is too much to discuss.
    I just found this site late last night, otherwise I would have responded a very long time ago.

    ReplyDelete