LPA discusses unsafe housing, migrant camps

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LABELLE – During the Local Planning Agency (LPA) Workshop, held on August 13, commissioners and citizens discussed solutions regarding dilapidated and unsafe housing, particularly the older mobile homes in the Ford, Sunset, Englewood, and Pinewood subdivisions of LaBelle. Alexis Crespo, City Planner, led the discussion. She explained the current ordinances and spoke about seeking the balance between affordable and attractive housing while summarizing the issue. Commissioners discussed the amendment to the codes regarding replacing older mobile homes with new guidlines.

Commissioner Julie Wilkins spoke in more detail about the need for improving living conditions and affordable housing, and the inability for many residents to upgrade existing housing due to finances.

One of the community residents present at the meeting, Nora Ned, voiced her concern about the addition of more migrant worker camps. Crespo responded that only one mobile home would be allowed. Wilkins explained the problem with migrant worker camps being added stemmed from the ability to apply for them through the Health Department, therefore bypassing City Commission regulations. Wilkins also affirmed that only one mobile home would be allowed per property and that the conditions surrounding allowance of migrant worker camps needed to be assessed at another time. Mayor David Lyons agreed that the migrant work camps needed to be addressed.

The LPA adjourned and the regular LaBelle City Commission Meeting began with Mayor Lyons announced that Commissioners David Kelly and Tomas Smith were unopposed and retained their seats on the City Commission. They were sworn in by City Attorney Derek Rooney.

Nikki Yeager presented her suggestion regarding the naming of the large oak tree in Barron Park in memorial of Sherri Craichy. Yeager read from a long list of the contributions and accomplishments from Sherri Craichy regarding her involvement of and love for the City of Labelle. A plaque on the tree, as well as the addition of benches was recommended by Mayor Lyons. Daughter Julie Craichy commented that it was a wonderful idea, but that her mother was opposed to memorials. She recommended the plaque and naming, but only as a dedication and recognition, not a memorial. A motion passed to create and place a plaque in memory of Craichy and her many accomplishments and contributions to LaBelle unanimously.

A public hearing and second reading of proposed Ordinance 2020-10 was held on proposed Ordinance 2020- 10, Planned Unit Development Rezone for the 61+/-acre parcel of land located south of Helms Road and ½ mile east of SR 80,The Arbours at South LaBelle Village, motion to approve was passed 5-0.

The public hearing on Resolution 2020-35, relating to a Special Exception to allow for a mobile vending trailer in Barron Park had a lengthy discussion. The LaBelle Downtown Revitalization Corp. (LDRC) has requested the ability to permit a maximum of a food truck on park property, generally between the hours of 11 a.m. and 9 p.m., Monday through Sunday. The truck would be located in the western side of the park adjacent to the drive aisle that runs parallel to Bridge Street/SR 29. The trailer would be limited to 8’ wide by 16’ long. The operator would be required to provide the City with a business license, liability insurance, and corporation documents. The City Commission would require the vendor pay a fee to locate in the park for utilization of the property and City resources. Vendors would apply for the permit and rotate at the Park site, via a public bidding process. The LDCR has offered to organize the bidding process, prepare a monthly schedule for the selected vendors, and provide a monthly report to the City Commission. Concerns regarding insurance coverage, use of the park for fundraisers, regular clean up, and rule enforcement were discussed. The motion to approve the project as a special six-month pilot with a more specific weekly schedule, was passed 5-0.

A public hearing and first reading on proposed Ordinance 2020-11, relating to a Land Development Code Amendment for industrial wastewater pre-treatment was discussed. This Ordinance will be known and cited as the City of LaBelle Industrial Pretreatment Program (IPP). 58 59 b. The purpose of the Industrial Pretreatment Program is to prevent the introduction 60 of pollutants into the City of LaBelle Sanitary Collection System that would: interfere with the operation of the treatment facilities; cause pass-through of pollutants through the City Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) which can prevent the ability to reclaim or reuse wastewater or biosolids; be incompatible with the existing treatment works process; or that can jeopardize the safety and well-being of WWTF and collection systems personnel. In addition, the IPP ensures that City of LaBelle Utilities Department adheres to the standards set by State and Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pretreatment regulations. The Superintendent of Public Works, Gary Hull, spoke about the issue of LaBelle having a reputation as a place to dump loads that would not be accepted elsewhere. During the discussion, Commissioner Wilkins used the term “shitake” in reference to the sewage being dumped. Throughout the first reading the term was used humorously. The public hearing and first reading on this ordinance was moved forward to the LPA.

The public hearing for transmittal of proposed Ordinance 2020-05, Large-Scale Comprehensive Plan Amendment for the 56+/-acre parcel of land located south of SR 80 and east of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, to the Department of Economic Opportunity., and the public hearing for first reading on proposed Ordinance 2020-06, Planned Unit Development Rezone for the 56+/-acre parcel of land located south of SR 80 and east of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. known as Wheeler Grove was held. Wheeler Properties, LLC & Town Grove, LLC are the applicants seeking approval of a Planned Unit Development (PUD) Rezone of the 56+/-acre subject property to allow for the development of 335 dwelling units, including 110 single-family and 225 multi-family, private on-site recreational amenities, and supportive infrastructure. No commercial uses are proposed. No public comment was made regarding the first reading. A motion to approve the transmittal was passed 5-0.

The public hearing for first reading on proposed Ordinance 2020-12 and proposed Ordinance 2020-13, Small-Scale Comprehensive Plan Amendment and PUD Rezone for a 9+/-acre parcel of land located south of Cowboy Way and ¼ mile east of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. known as LaBelle Riverside, was read into record.

Resolution 2020-41, ratifying Resolutions 2020-36, 2020-37, 2020-38, 2020-39 and 2020-40 regarding the Local State of Emergency relating to COVID-19 was approved, motion passed 5-0.

The LaBelle Fire Chief, Josh Rimes, presented an update for the month of July. He reported that several staff were exposed to COVID-19, but all tests came back negative. He also reported 61 calls during the month of July, which was up from 55 last year, but there was nothing significant to discuss further.

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