LaBelle City Commission discusses Marijuana Facilities

The meeting of the City of LaBelle Local Planning Agency was held on May 10, 2018.

After roll call wherein Thomas A. Smith, Dave Lyons, Julie Craichy Wilkins, Daniel Akin were present the meeting proceeded to the discussion of proposed Ordinance No. 2018-08 Prohibiting Medical Marijuana Facilities within the City of LaBelle. Hilda Zimmerly was absent due to illness.

During the discussion, it was stated that last year the city approved a temporary moratorium (Ordinance 2017-06) while the state decided how to treat the cannabis (medical marijuana) dispensing facilities. The state’s solution is to treat these dispensing facilities as a pharmacy which can be put anywhere designated as commercial. This limits the city’s control over the zoning and permitting of these facilities and restricts its ability to protect the surrounding land uses for which these dispensaries may not be compatible (ex. schools and churches).

The Marijuana Policy Group’s evaluation of the market need states that Florida should have no more than one dispensing facility for each 50,000 residents and LaBelle has a population of approximately 5,000 residents below this.

Anyone who has a script has access to medical marijuana through a system set up by the state and can get it sent straight to their home. This Ordinance will not affect any doctor that writes a script for medical marijuana.

Commissioner Julie Wilkins made a motion to approve Ordinance No. 2018-08 which was seconded and approved.

Meeting was adjourned.

The regular City Commission meeting was called to order. The opening prayer and Pledge of Allegiance was followed by roll call with all commissioners present except for Hilda Zimmerly.

With the bills for April, 2018 and the minutes from the March 8 meeting approved and seconded, Mayor Lyons called for Margaret England. Margaret England of LaBelle and Terri Miazaga of Moore Haven, representing the Hendry/Glades Unmet Needs Coalition, said that the coalition’s mission is to address the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of individuals and families affected by natural and man-made disasters in Hendry and Glades counties. In partnership with the United Way, the coalition is run by volunteers. Everyone has to have a case manager who handles their case. Meetings are rotated between LaBelle, Moore Haven and Clewiston. Hurricane Irma was a devastating storm. The coalition is asking residents to contact them, if there are unmet needs resulting from Hurricane Irma and all other resources have been exhausted, to find out what support may be available.

The update of the Barron Park Master Plan Committee was that a survey was done and that it was answered by 575 people. The three major complaints were the bathrooms, benches and picnic tables, and the need for a small children’s playground. A lengthy discussion took place about these three items, the condition and the layout of the park and facilities. It was decided that there was a need for a plan for the whole park. A motion was made, seconded and approved to authorize money for the planning of the park (not to exceed $2,500).

Megan Narehood, representing MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) which is focused on the moms, requested the use of the wharf in October to have scarecrows for Halloween. MOPS is planning a parade on the 27th of October starting at Dollar General and ending at the park. Areas along the wharf will be rented for a fee and each scarecrow will be judged. A motion to allow Scarecrows on the Wharf was made, seconded and approved.

Fire Chief Josh Rimes reported that the department had 108 calls in March and 117 calls in April. He stated that the fire station project was near completion and we are only a few weeks out from being able to use the new section. A ribbon cutting ceremony is being planned with state officials attending. The new truck should be in LaBelle about the middle of June. Presently there is a preliminary discussion going on between city and county officials about a possible fire station north of the bridge.

Lt. Shawn Reed provided a Person/Property Crime Analysis for April which included 1 sex crime, 1 assault, 3 batteries, 1 business theft, 4 residential thefts (bicycles), 4 burglaries, 2 vehicle thefts (golf carts), 2 criminal mischief. He stated that most of the thefts were done by one adult and 2 minors. These three were caught and arrested.

Superintendent of Public Works Michael Boyle reported that his department was working on street signs, and had started cleaning the canals and ditches in preparation of the rainy season.

City Planner Alexis Crespo stated that the paperwork for Department of Economic Opportunity Assistance grant has been submitted. A motion was made to make an exception that buildings, barns and structures for keeping of animals to not be within five feet of the property line.

Finance Director Ron Zimmerly stated that approval was needed to try to get money to cover the purchase of benches for Barron Park from the AARP Community Challenge Grant. The motion was made, seconded and passed.

Zimmerly stated that each year the city participates in a summer youth program. This summer there is a young man who wants to shadow the city electrician. A motion to approve acceptance of the summer youth program was seconded and passed.

A motion was made, seconded and passed for the Mayor to sign the fire grant agreement (for equipment and fire truck). This agreement is contingent upon the city attorney’s approval.

Mr. Zimmerly stated that the Capt. Hendry House received significant damage from Hurricane Irma. The City Engineer is going to have to consult with a historic preservationist as historic shingles have been lifted.

After a short discussion about the upcoming retirement of some city employees, the meeting was adjourned.

Jo can be reached at cbnews@newszap.com

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