City of LaBelle sets tentative millage rate

LABELLE — City of LaBelle has set the tentative millage for 2015-16 at 3.6046 mills (a 0.5 mill increase) the millage for 2015-16. It may later be lowered but it cannot be increased.
The first public hearing will be held September 10, at 5:30 p.m. at city hall. The final public hearing will be September 24 at 5:05.
After being shut down for seven months, the flea market at LaBelle Storage, 420 E. Cowboy Way has reopened. The LaBelle City Commission approved changing the site’s zoning from Light and Heavy Industrial zoning to a Planned Unit Development.
At their July 9 meeting LaBelle City Commissioners reached a conclusion on what to do regarding the popular flea market, which has operated there at least since 2009. According to City Planner Shellie Johnson’s remarks, the flea market has had “little to no adverse impacts to nearby properties or to the community.”
The storage facility is a permitted use. Flea markets are not permitted in industrial zones, Ms. Johnson added. However, that use on this specific property predates current regulation.
For months the situation has dragged on as owner Glenn Schofield insisted he had the right to continue running the flea market as he has been. The complaint against the flea market came from a neighborhood restaurant owner who said the food vendors there were unfairly competing with his bricks and mortar business.
The owner insisted he has not expanded the operation, only improved and maintained it.
Sitting as the Local Planning Agency, the board conducted a lengthy discussion on the issue.
Mr. Schofield said he carries the overall license for the entire flea market, while the individual vendors, each small business in its own right, holds its own appropriate licenses. All appropriate taxes are paid, he added.
With a 3-2 vote, the LPA recommended that the city approve the flea market ordinance with certain restrictions, allowing food vendors to operate there only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
During the commission meeting, however, the board decided 4-1 to allow the flea market to operate seven days a week, including the hot food vendors as long as at least seven non-food vendors are open. Commissioner Hilda Zimmerly was the lone dissenter. The new regulation allows a maximum of three vendor vehicles to do business parked along Cowboy Way. The board determined that the site requires 30 parking spaces, which will include parking on Spratt Blvd. and Hickory St.
LFD
LaBelle Fire Chief Josh Rimes reported that the fire department answered 63 calls for service in June and is on pace for the same in July. He said the county has put a burn ban in place, but the city has a permanent ban.
LFD is also partnering with the Red Cross in a program to provide smoke detectors in the Englewood, Pinewood and Cross Ties developments.
Oak Grove PUD
The city commission approved rezoning a 33.65 acre plot on the west side of Main Street abutting LaBelle Woods RV Park from professional office commercial and agriculture to Planned Unit Development. The parcel is to be used for RV spaces, single family residences, a clubhouse community garden area and commercial retail/office uses. The motion passed 4-0, with Commissioner Greg Bone abstaining.
HCSO
Lt. Josh Woods reported 6,439 calls for service in June. He said HCSO will be equipping its vehicles with defibrillators.
MSBU rates tentatively set
Street lighting: each parcel abutting a street $.37 x property footage ($.37 per foot
Police protection: vacant residence $21.3304 per building site; $62.3992 per single family, duplex, townhouse, apartment, triplex plus other properties
Fire protection: vacant residence $10.4058 per building site; $57.8100 single family, duplexes, townhouses, apartments, triplexes condominium plus other properties
Recreation: vacant residence, mobile home, commercial/industrial, zero; single family, etc., $100 per unit, improved mobile home; RVs $50 per site

Patty Brant, can be reached at cbnews@newszap.com

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