Caloosa Belle

LaBelle City Commission approves Special Exceptions, hears from ACT

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The December 14 meeting of the City of LaBelle Commission meeting was brought to order by Mayor Dave Lyons. Ron Zimmerly lead the meeting in prayer. All commissioners were present for this meeting.

The approval for the November 2017 vouchers and paid bills passed with vote of 5-0. The minutes for the October 12 and November 9 regular commission meetings were also approved 5-0.

Public Hearings, Resolutions, Ordinances and Citizens Concerns
1. Annual Review Zac’s Friendship House Special Exception – Amanda Reyna, Zac’s big sister was present representing Zac’s Friendship House. Zac’s Friendship house is a non-profit in LaBelle named in honor of Zachary Cole Reyna. On August 03, 2013, Zac and his friends were doing an all time favorite; knee-boarding and swimming in canals filled with water. A few days later, Zac started with flu-like symptoms and when he was taken to the hospital he was diagnosed with primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM), a brain eating amoeba. Zac fought long and hard to battle the amoeba, but after three weeks, it was God who had won and gained a great little man with lots of spunk.

After Zac left, the family felt the need to carry on his life through the life of others in need. Zac’s Friendship House provides opportunities for personal growth and development of life skills and morals for youth and families in the local community.

The Special Exception was approved for three more years with a vote of 5-0.

2. Special Event Permit David Maus Nissan – This was for a used car sale in the Walmart Parking lot which was held from December 26 to December 31. The dealership had sought the commission’s approval for an event early in 2017 and it was approved by the commission but the dealership didn’t hold that event. This current event was approved by the commission with a vote of 4-1 with Commissioner Wilkens being the lone descending vote.

3. Public Hearing on Ordinance No. 2017-21 Alcoholic Beverage Special Exception. The current code states that if you are within 750 feet of a church or school you cannot have an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages. The purpose behind the suggested change was to allow an avenue for someone to come in and apply for a special exception to allow for an alcoholic beverage establishment within the 750 foot range through a special permission by the Commission. This would allow the Commissioners to evaluate the requests individually case by case and allow the Commission to place special conditions on each request.

Commissioner Zimmerly, who does not approve of alcohol period, made a motion to adopt the ordinance keeping the distance at 750 feet. It was approved with a vote of 5-0.

New Business
Bob Kirkwood from the Disable American Veterans (DAV) handed out packets to the Commissioners showing the properties on Miller Avenue several of which are owned by the DAV. Directly across the street are lots 7, 9 and 11 which the DAV would like to aquire for parking. They have made an offer on lot 7 and the DAV currently owns lot 9. Lot 11 is owned by the City of LaBelle. The area encompassed by these lots are a garbage dump at the present time. Bob had a three fold request for the Commission. First being to utilize the city’s right of way and the lots to extend the parking on the weekends for the DAV Flea Market. The second part of Bob’s request was that the City forgive the liens on lot 9. The third request was for the City to donate lot 11 to the DAV who in turn would clean up the lot and maintain the lot which is what the City is currently having to do. The DAV is tax exempt they still pay police, fire and utilities. This would make lot 11 have a positive cash flow since the City currently has to pay employees to keep the lot up.

The properties in question are Zoned Residential and according to City code you cannot have a parking lot on a residential lot. Since the area would have to be rezoned it was determined that the DAV needs to pay for a Small Scale Amendment and PUD to change the zoning.

The DAV as a national organization give part of the money they raise to the national organization. Locally they help veterans in need and have worked with other organizations like St. Matthews house.

A decision was made to move forward with the requests at a later time.

Melissa Music approached the Commission seeking permission to hold a benefit for Spence Hull in Barron Park on January 14, 2018. The date was approved.

Diane Fridanza, Executive Secretary of the LaBelle Chamber of Commerce approached the Commission seeking permission to move Night on the Town from Ft Thompson to the Wharf. The Chamber also plans on changing the event from a Tuesday night to Saturday, February 17, the week before the Swamp Cabbage Festival. Commissioner Wilkens brought up the possible conflict with this event and the Block Party sponsored by the Swamp Cabbage Festival committee. Mayor Lyons suggested that the Chamber, Swamp Cabbage Committee and LaBelle Downtown Revitalization get together and work out the date.

Gina Melone with Abuse Counseling and Treatment (ACT) a community educator specifically tasked with human trafficking, spoke to the Commission about human trafficking in this area. Gina will be training county employees in January on how to spot possible trafficking. Commissioner Wilkens thought it would be a good idea for City employees to attend the training as well.