Caloosa Belle

LaBelle City Commission Meeting

city of labelle logo

-The City Commissioners approved the consent agenda for the approval of the December vouchers and payment of bills as well as the minutes from the November 10 regular meeting.

-The Greater LaBelle Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Diane Fidanza, asked for the closure of Fort Thompson Avenue from Bridge Street to Main Street as well as Main Street from Fort Thompson Avenue down toward the library to accommodate the upcoming Night on the Town event being held on February 21. Commissioners voted unanimously to approve this motion.

-Resolution No. 2017-01 – A resolution of the City of LaBelle, Florida requesting the Florida Legislature amend Chapter 440, Florida Statutes, to address the Florida Supreme Court’s recent decisions related to Florida’s Workers’ Compensation System. This resolution supports asking the Legislature to amend this statute to ensure that it is constitutionally valid, including creating a cap on attorneys’ fees and amending the time limit for workers compensation claims. The City of LaBelle is also asking that the Legislature “consider the impacts of any modifications to the workers’ compensation system on local governments, including impacts on the private sector, and engage local government leaders in the decision making processes so that the voices of our constituents might be heard in the midst of the debate.” City Attorney Angela Hill stated “I see no down side with the City adopting this – nothing but good can come from this.” The motion passed 5-0.

-Medical Marijuana Ordinance – Existing state law prohibits cities from regulating medical marijuana cultivation and processing facilities. Cities can regulate locations of facilities that dispense medical marijuana products that can be smoked, or used as edibles or oils. According to the Florida League of Cities, there are several different ways that cities in the state of Florida are currently addressing/regulating the placement of medical marijuana dispensaries including moratorium, regulation, zoning, and numerical limitations. Moratorium allows the City to adopt a reasonable amount of time to allow the planning staff and the commission to interact and develop an appropriate response to the issue. Regulation through the zoning code would allow where the facilities are placed and the number of facilities the City would be willing to accommodate. Commissioner Wilkins directed City Attorney Angela Hill to draft a nine-month moratorium on the medical marijuana dispensing facilities. The motion passed 5-0.

-LaBelle Fire Department Assistant Chief Clint Walker noted that there were 67 fire calls for the month of December. So far during the dry and busy month of January, there have already been 31 calls. In 2016, the LVFD received a total of 786 calls – 365 city and 421 county. Asst. Chief Walker also noted that they have received a 50/50 grant from the Forestry Service. The Forestry Service will pay for 50 percent of the foam, pagers and brush coat gear needed by the fire department. He also stated that LVFD is moving forward with their planned training center. Due to the dry conditions, he reminded the commissioners that the City always has a burn ban, and now the County has enacted their burn ban as well.

-Lt. Shawn Reed, Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, told the commissioners that for the month of December there were 4 person crimes and 17 property crimes in the city (1 stolen vehicle, 10 thefts, 1 residential burglary and 5 criminal mischiefs). District 1 calls for 2016 decreased by 10.3 percent when compared to the 2016 City of LaBelle calls which increased by 23.6 percent.

-Resolution 2017-03 – A resolution of the City of LaBelle, Florida, finding that a fire emergency exists within the City of LaBelle, Florida, and imposing a moratorium on unregulated fires within the city, providing for repeal, providing for separability, providing an effective date. This is a moratorium on all fires, except for ‘cook fires’. A unanimous vote was received.

-City Attorney Angela Hill discussed prioritizing code enforcement issues regarding dilapidated houses and properties within the city. Commissioners were in agreement that these properties need to be dealt with in the least costly manner possible.

-Ron Zimmerly, Finance Director, asked the commissioners to make a motion to declare two vehicles as surplus so that they could be disposed of. He noted that it was not cost effective to try to repair the equipment. A motion was made and passed 5-0. He also asked for a motion to amend a change order for the $1.8M WCP Recycled Water Project. Material costs need to be removed from the original contract because they were purchased direct to save on paying taxes. This would reduce the amount of the original contract by $656,360.02. The new contract amount will be $1,139,639.98. The city will receive a check back for $11,180.74. No other changes are required. Commissioner Smith made the motion to approve the change order and it was seconded by Commissioner Zimmerly. The motion passed 5-0. Mr. Zimmerly then asked the commissioners to make a motion to authorize the mayor to sign the agreement per DEP for the LP26035-Fort Thompson Water Quality Improvement Project, contingent upon the review of their legal council. The city was approved for $200,000 for this project. The motion passed 5-0.

-The LaBelle Heritage Museum requested the sole use of the upstream slips of the LaBelle City Wharf adjacent to the northeast corner of Barron Park from February 24 until noon of February 27, for docking the M/V River Queen. The boat will be used for the LaBelle Heritage Museum’s 2nd Annual Caloosahatchee River Excursions during Swamp Cabbage weekend.