Doug Bostik and Hilda Zimmerly honored at commission meeting

City of LaBelle Regular Commission Meeting on February 13, began with roll call that showed Tommy Smith, Julie Wilkins, Daniel Akin, and Mayor David Lyons we’re present. They opened with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Doug Bostick was recognized for his hard work for the past 12 years as the City of LaBelle’s Code Enforcement Officer. He is retiring, and was thanked for his service by the Mayor and Commissioners.

Next, Mayor Lyons read proclamations announcing the Robert B. and Catherine Waldron Family as the 2020 Swamp Cabbage Festival Pioneer Family, and Renee Curtis Pratt as the 2020 Swamp Cabbage Parade Grand Marshal.

A proclamation was also read for 2020 Poppies Day, an annual tradition where the American Legion Auxiliary Unit #130 sells poppies to “Honor the Dead by Helping the Living”.

A 2020 US Census Presentation by Michelle Malsbury was then presented. Where she explained, “The goal of the 2020 Census is to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.” She describes the important ways that the 2020 Census can help LaBelle’s residents, from forecasting the future of transportation needs, determining housing assistance and rehabilitation loans, assistance with local government planning, education and healthcare needs, and the overall political power and economic impacts.

The 2020 Census consists of 10 questions.

Remote areas, that have been determined to have limited access to phones and internet, will receive the questionnaires in the mail. Other residents will receive a post card that directs them to participate by phone or online.

Census Recruiting help is needed, and interested applicants for 2020 Census positions can call the toll free Jobs Line at 1-855-JOB-2020 or visit the website at 2020census.gov/jobs.

During the Hendry Glades Unmet Needs Coalition presentation, Greg Gunter and Margaret England explained that the coalition is a grassroots organization that formed after Hurricane Irma. In February 2018, they were able to start helping survivors of Irma who had exhausted any financial help and were still suffering from the damage done by the hurricane. As of December 76 homes have been helped, and more homes continue to receive help. England thanked United Way for coordinating all of the different organizations and agencies to be able to provide much needed relief to those in need.

England also announced that Greg Gunter has been added to the United Way staff in a full time, permanent capacity. Previously, Gunter’s employment was temporary, as it was funded by the grant for Hurricane Irma recovery. In his new position as the Hendry/Glades Coordinator, he will work with LaBelle United Way manager, Lisa Sands. Gunter will be focused on building partnerships in the Clewiston area, and restoring the United Way House in Clewiston.

The Hendry Glades Unmet Needs Coalition will continue to work towards helping those in need while also being able to be ready to respond in the case of another natural disaster. People in need are encouraged to call 211 to see if they qualify for more resources that are still available.

A presentation on Waste Connections Commercial Rate Adjustment by Zay Louis was then given. The proposed rate adjustment will be a 5% increase, which is typical every year due to the cost of doing business- though there has not been a rate adjustment since 2016. Commissioner Wilkins requested that there be a campaign implemented to inform customers of the reasons for the price increase. Louis agreed that he could make that happen, and letters would be sent out about the rate adjustment and information regarding recycling services. Also, it was explained that while participation in recycling is low, residents that would like larger bins may request them. Motion to approve the rate increase was passed 4-0.

Motions for approval of January 2020 vouchers and paid bills, minutes from January 9, 2020 Regular City Commission Meeting, Local Planning Agency Meeting, and Barron Park Master Plan Committee Meeting passed 4-0.

Public Hearings began with the First Reading on Ordinance 2020-01, Paul 50-Acre Planned Unit Development Rezone. There was no public comment.

The next Public Hearing was for the Parrish Chiropractic Sign/Mural, located at 80 N. Main Street. Motion to approve the permit for the sign/mural was approved 4-0.

Lastly, a 7-Eleven Significant Oak Tree Removal Permit, for 930 S. Bridge Street was discussed. Wilkins was concerned about the significant oaks being replaced with much smaller trees, and explained that the code may need to be changed in order to save the oaks.

“We’re not helping ourselves as the City of Oaks by letting this happen,” Wilkins said. “It just seems like we should do something to save the oaks.”

The code currently enforced that even the largest oaks be replaced with just 2” trees. “For the record, I hate our code.” Wilkins declared. A proposal to replace the trees with larger trees than required by code was discussed. The complications of finding replacement oaks larger than 4” are that they may not survive. A motion was made to replace the trees with 4” diameter, and to reduce the penalty by half. Motion was passed 3-0.

A member of the public asked if the fee went towards planting a new tree. Wilkins discussed that there needs to be a plan made for that as well as the trees removed by Burger King.

Under Old Business, the River Bend Passive Park Lease Agreement with South Florida Water Management District was discussed. It was mentioned that the South Florida Water Management District May be receiving some political pressure, to which Wilkins asked, “So, who’s doing that?” some mumbling occurred, and then Wilkins said, “Oh well, never mind it’s not public information.” The matter was then tabled.

An update on the PFM Recreation Special Assessment Study, was presented and a Special Meeting on this matter was scheduled for February 27, 2020 at 5:30 p.m.

The SCOP Repaving/Overlay Project Bid Update (RFB 2020-01) was then discussed. FDOT approval was pending tonight’s discussion. Pre-construction meetings are to be scheduled. A motion, subject to FDOT approval to select OHL USA at the rate of $115.50/ton was passed 4-0.

Removal of trees that are interfering with power lines in the LaBelle Motel was discussed. Wilkins said she was struggling with being politically correct, while also voicing her concerns regarding the abilities of the persons trimming and removing the trees. After some further discussion, permission was granted for the tree removal by a 4-0 vote.

Another tree removal issue came up for a property owner who was going to build a home on a lot where two large oaks in the middle of the lot. Wilkins expressed her concerns for the loss of the trees, commenting she was not wanting to be known as a “tree killer”. A motion to grant the approval for tree removal, upon submittal of a plan to the building department was passed 4-0.

Staff reports were presented, starting with the Fire Department. They responded to 76 service calls in January. They have a few trucks that are out of commission, but are being worked on. They are preparing for Swamp Cabbage Festival.

The HSCO reported that the analyst was not available, and that a new report would be presented soon. Speeding areas of concern were discussed. Wilkins commented, “We should be like South Bay and they get a ticket as soon as you get into town.” Speeding infractions were reported as improved.

The issue of blockage occurring at the Main Street and 80 intersection was also discussed.

City Engineer, 4 Waters Engineering presented a report that they have been making progress for all projects. Conceptuals had been completed, projects were moving forward.

Gary Hull, Superintendent of Public Works, presented a report regarding sewage treatment and maintenance. All has been going forward, a lot of work has been completed. Mayor Lyons commented that after over 30 years on the board, Hull had presented the best explanation of the sewers/treatment plant he had ever heard.

Ron Zimmerly, Finance Director, reported the upcoming events at the Civic Center, and a low turnout for the DEO meeting- but important and useful input was received.

Allen Pickles had nothing major to report for Code Enforcement.

Mayor Lyons then spoke about Hilda Zimmerly submitting a letter of resignation effective February 1. A farewell event to honor her for her 15 years of service was planned for February 27, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. during the Special Meeting. Lyons also presented that he was tasked, as Mayor, to fill the position until Zimmerly’s term/seat was up for re-election. He recommended David Kelly, and presented his biography. A motion to approve David Kelly to take the seat was approved 4-0.

The meeting was then adjourned.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment