Caloosa Belle

Recreation tax increase requested at city meeting

Carol Westmoreland of the League of Cities Membership Outreach Department presented Commissioner T.A. Smith, a long time mayor of the city, with an award recognizing over 20 years of dedicated service to his community. The award presentation took place at the city commission’s May 12 meeting. (Patty Brant/Caloosa Belle)

LaBelle Finance Director Ron Zimmerly told the city commissioners at their May 12 meeting that the Hendry/LaBelle Rec Board is hoping to tack on an additional $25 per unit to resident’s current $100 yearly assessment. If approved, use of these funds would not be limited to Sports Complex but use for any and all recreation uses. If the board opts to increase the assessment, it must be done by July to appear on the tax bill.

Fourth of July
At the city commission’s May 12, Keitha Daniels of the LaBelle Downtown Revitalization Corporation said her organization wants to host the city’s Fourth of July celebration this year. She appeared before the board seeking permission to do fundraisers for fireworks. The city commission designated $10,000 from its budget to go for the fireworks this year and the LDRC committed to contributing $2,000 to be collected over the next few weeks.

Ms. Daniels told the board that the LDRC is planning to bring back the very popular Fourth of July Raft Race and has a live band ready to play for the celebration.

The bulk of the meeting was used for discussion of a voluntary annexation, comp plan amendment and PUD rezoning request for the Gutierrez property, 2.24 acres Cowboy Way between Ute and Hull St. – 409 West Cowboy Way. The request was to change the property from Hendry County C1 light auto and office (Residential High Density) to the PUD.

The owner wants to put in a farmer’s market every Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a meat market in an existing building, food trailer/cart and parking.
An existing vehicle equipment sales/service will remain on the south end of the property. There will be 10 parking spaces for retail, 20 for the farmer’s market and 10 for auto repair shop. Vendors will be required to have appropriate Department of Agriculture licenses. Among the approved products for sale on the property are: fresh produce, plants, honey, jam, meat, seafood, poultry, cheese and baked goods.
The farmer’s market will be able to accommodate 20 temporary booths. At this time, the property has on-site private water and sewer, but will be able to hook up to city water.
In the end the board approved the requests with some special conditions.
Brian Smith of Encite took the vacationing City Planner Shelly Johnson’s duties for the Local Planning Agency meeting for the major discussion before the city commission could take a vote.

Ultimately all the requests were approved by city commissioners.

Nuisance regulations
A public hearing on environmental/nuisance regulations was continued to the board’s June meeting. Difficult concerns about how to monitor, quantify and legally support noise claims still dog the board.

The ordinance would address issues barking dogs, noise, livestock and lighting.

In other business:
– LFD Assistant Chief Clint Walker reported that things are slowing down for his department with 58 calls for service in April. LFD has three new firefighters and now 28 of 30 slots are filled in the roster.

– Applied Technology Maintenance’s (ATM) Tim Taylor reported that equipment for the water treatment plant that is expected to counteract the rusting of old pipes continuing to render city water in parts of the city unusable would soon arrive. It will take a little time to affect the water, but he is confident it will do the trick.

He said that Tractor Supply would like the city run a 2” water line to its facility, but it was decided an 8” line would be preferable because city water would then be available for the future development of surrounding properties.

Representative Matt Hudson provided a local “big picture” from the Legislative Budget at the last LaBelle city commission meeting, including state funding for local projects. The final segments completing the four laning of SR 80 will be funded along with money for Helms Road $1.3 million, Clewiston Police station $1.5 million, PreK early learning $1.7 million, LaBelle Historic Preservation $10,000, LaBelle Heritage Museum $300 and Courthouse $500.000 preservation. (Patty Brant/Caloosa Belle)

-The board approved a request to name a private, public access road at Walmart to Ben Moore Place or Drive.

LaBelle Finance Director Ron Zimmerly told the board that construction on new wharf additions should start about June 18.

– The city will be adding its surplus properties to its website, which is to be updated.

– Budget workshops are to start in June.

– The 200+ acre passive park property on the north side of the Caloosahatchee River was unanimously named the LaBelle River Park.