The February 14, meeting at city hall began with City Planner, Alexis Crespo, presenting a workshop regarding allowable and appropriate density, and discussion about accommodating new development while preserving the character and small-town charm of LaBelle. Crespo spoke about high density often seeming alarming and negative to the public, and potentially out of character for their neighborhoods, but that it is important for the growth of a community. Also, that the term is often misunderstood. Crespo resenting the density calculations in various categories and areas, she displayed photos for visual comparison while discussing the need to be considerate about development of high-density areas that are directly adjacent to lower density residential areas.
Andrew Jones was up first for public comment, discussing the importance of protecting the roads, trees, and the overall unique character of the community.
Alex Caldwell next to deliver his public comment said that he was there to second what Andrew Jones had brought up. He pointed out the interesting land use code and unusual mixture of high and low densities that exist in LaBelle. He asked that the future land use plans and changes to code be comprehensive, taking into account all of the characteristics of LaBelle.
Brian Quinn was at the podium to discuss the positives of development, growth, and high density to a city. After some final discussion from the board and city planner, the Local Planning Agency was brief.
The regular City Commission Meeting was called to order, it opened with a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and roll call. Approval of January 2019 vouchers and paid bills, and the December 13, 2018 L.P.A. and Regular Commission Meeting minutes were approved.
Mayor David Lyons presented the City of LaBelle Poppies Proclamation, supporting the annual sale of Poppies by the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 130, “We urge all patriotic citizens to wear a Poppy as mute evidence of our gratitude to the men and women of this country who have risked their lives in defense of the freedoms which we continue to enjoy as American citizens.”
Charlie Davis, a member of the DAV LaBelle Chapter 144 spoke to the Mayor and City Commissioners saying, “Over the years many veterans from this area have served their country, many suffered wounds and death. There was one veteran in particular who gave his life for his country and his fellow soldiers. While serving as a machine gunner with Company C, Sp4c. Nicholas T. Cutinha accompanied his unit on a combat mission near Gia Dinh, South Vietnam. Suddenly his company came under small arms, automatic weapons, mortar and rocket propelled grenade fire, from a battalion size enemy unit. On that day, Nicholas fought bravely, protecting his wounded comrades while they were being treated and evacuated. Nicholas lost his life that day serving his fellow man and his country. Nicholas was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, which is in the custody of the American Legion Post 130, here in LaBelle.”
Davis then spoke about a new park that is being developed and suggested that the new park be named in memoriam of Nicholas Cutinha. The Mayor and Commissioners suggested that the LaBelle Veterans Memorial Park, in the center of town, would likely be the best place for this memorialization. Tommy Smith made a motion to plan and support a memorial, Julie Wilkins seconded the movement. The motion to approve passed 5-0.
First Reading on proposed Ordinance 2019-01 JAB PUD Rezone: Amending the city of LaBelle zoning map, zoning designation from Business general to Planned Unit development, noted and on record. No further actions taken.
First Reading and Public Hearing on proposed Ordinance 2019-02 City initiated Future Land Use Element Land Use Category, was moved to April.
Public Hearing on proposed Ordinance 2019-03 City Initiated Design Standards for Developments with Frontage on State Road 80, up for adoption in March, movement to support the LPA’s recommendation, the motion to approve passed 4-1.
First Reading on proposed Ordinance 2019-04 Broward Ave LLC PUD (City Village) Rezone, moved to March.
First Reading on proposed Ordinance 2019-05 84 Hall Street Rezone, city-initiated rezone from single family to business professional, was noted and on record.
Resolution 2019-01 Occupation of Right-of-Way Belle Arbor, motion to approve passed 5-0.
Resolution 2019-02 SCOP Agreement $90,053.00, for local paving of roads, motion to approve passed 5-0.
Resolution 2019-03 USDA Loan Resolution Civic Center, official closing date March 14, motion to approve passed 5-0.
Old Business: An ongoing dispute over the limited use of a public access right-of-way to the river on Park Avenue, due to the sale of property, was discussed but no resolution was made during the meeting.
New Business: A request for a four-way stop at the intersection of Missouri and Washington, motion to approve passed 5-0.
Staff reports began with Fire Chief, Josh Rimes, who reported a total of 90 calls for January. He also said that of the four firefighters being added, three are already certified. Rimes also invited the board to a Burn Day at the training facility in March.
City Attorney, Derek Rooney reported that a request for a mandatory mediation/special hearing process regarding the Shady Oaks Tiny Homes project denial. Explaining that if the matter is not resolved, it may result in litigation. Notice will go out to the previous public speakers, from the surrounding neighborhoods. Rooney asked that the commission assign a person or people to accompany him through the process.
Superintendent of Public Works, James Maddox presented a tentative 5-year D.O.T. work plan and funding. A discussion of the design and planning of Bridge St. and the surrounding areas ensued.
Melissa Music, Swamp Cabbage Festival Committee Chairman discussed the upcoming events to clarify that all plans are approved for the next week’s upcoming events.
Finance Director, Ron Zimmerly, asked for approval of Lisa Smith as the PRM Insurance designee. The motion to approve passed 5-0. Zimmerly then brought up the Historic Clock donation and restoration, the chimes were not included in the renovation project. The replacement of the chimes will cost about $11, 875, of which around $3,000 dollars has been raised. He suggested a donation of $5,000 be made by the city of LaBelle, the motion to approve was passed 5-0. The board was excited about the idea of hearing the chimes.
Several other matters such as and FDOT Lighting Application for SR80 West of MLK to Walmart, motion to ratify was approved 5-0. He gave and update on the Legislative Appropriation Request, and hopes that some consideration will be given to the septic tank to sewage system transition project.
The Civic Center renovation had an allowance of $40,000, but it seems that bid was too low. The cost will amount to over $55,000. Zimmerly requested a change order for that project and warned the board that there will be another change order soon. A motion to approve the change order passes 5-0.
Request for bid #2018-06 to replace the shingles that had been damaged by Hurricane Irma on the Captain Hendry House with metal ones. Zimmerly stated the recommendation was to reject the current bid, in favor of another company that manufactures custom shingles that will preserve the look and character of the historic Hendry House. Motion to reject the current bid was passed 5-0. This project will be paid for by the city, then will be reimbursed by insurance, FEMA, and the State.
The next item up for discussion was the James Singleton building and Veterans Park interlocal agreement modification. The recreation board met previously and had already approved the swap, which caused some confusion. Julie Wilkins commented that changes, increases in rates, would cause problems for the churches in the community that frequently use the building. No action was taken on this matter during the meeting. The discussion turned to the Daniel School building having become dilapidated, and the lack of a historic designation resulting in the inability to apply or receive grants.
W.S.I. rates have increased for commercial waste, to an average of 6.7 percent, for commercial waste was discussed. The motion to approve the increase on the dumpsters only was passed 5-0.
Hilda Zimmerly spoke about the shrubbery at the end of Forrey Drive and SR80 being a safety concern. James Maddox said he would reach out to DOT for a possible solution, but that it was a design standard and likely would not be resolved.
Mayor Lyons mentioned that if the Daniel School were to be demolished, a large gazebo could possibly be erected in its place with a commemorative plaque and be rented out for community use. Julie Wilkins agreed that sounded like a good idea for the future. The meeting was then adjourned.
The regular business meetings of the LaBelle City Commission are held on thesecond Thursday of every month 6 p.m. at City Hall, 481 W. Hickpochee Ave. Meetings are open to the public and everyone is invited to attend. If you would like to be included on the agenda, call City Hall at 863-675-2872.