At their October 25 regular meeting, county commissioners approved a minor amendment to the Contractor Certification.
The commission revisited last September’s changes to its tradesman regulations that allow people in certain trades to work in Hendry County holding only Certificates of Competency if they have been registered with the state since April 2008. They must apply for the local license with Hendry County.
LaBelle City Commissioner Julie Wilkins, whose husband owns a contracting business, argued for more outreach from the county to make eligible businesses and tradesmen aware of this and other changes as they occur. She argued that the local government needs to do a better job of reaching the public with pertinent information.
Commissioner Karson Turner agreed, saying it is difficult overall to get county information out to “the masses.”
He said it is difficult just to get out information to the appropriate people on items such as permitting and when bids go out for county projects.
LaBelle resident Richard Yorashek, Licensing Board Chairman, commented that in 1994 the Licensing Board changed the ordinance to allow only state certified contractors to operate in the county. However, counties can still allow registered contractors, who have not met state criteria, to operate within their boundaries.
He said surrounding counties only allow state certified tradesmen to do business in their jurisdictions and he is concerned that Hendry County may be opening a box it won’t be pleased with. He said registered contactors were grandfathered in. He bemoaned the fact that the state has no hands-on contractor test and said that the county needs to look more at licensed contractors.
Planning and Community Development Director Margaret Emblidge was asked to keep track of the number of eligible contractors who have taken advantage of the opportunity at the end of one year.
Commissioner Darrell Harris moved to approve the original error in the original ordinance. Commissioner Don Davis seconded. The motion passed.
County Administrator Charles Chapman reported on the county’s annual Legislative priority list which will be presented to local state legislators at the annual Legislative Delegation meeting to be held Friday, December 2, 11 a.m.-noon in the Commissioners Room at LaBelle City Hall.
The county’s Tallahassee lobbyist Joe Spratt said he would do his part to help get funding from the Legislature.
Mr. Spratt named off several Legislators invested in Hendry County and added that he is “excited about the people we will have (in the Legislature). We’re going to have some hitters!” he told the board.
County Administrator Chapman said that the document the board has is a draft that may be tightened further after the election.
Commissioner Turner told those present that he doesn’t like the “piecemeal” system of receiving Legislative monies and that there are too many individual requests. He would prefer to seek one large appropriation from the state to be used by the county.
County Engineer Shane Parker brought a proposal to the board to expand the Murray Road MSBU, enacted in 2013 to ensure emergency access to the neighborhood. He said the MSBU only includes properties on the west side of the road, but some residents on the east side are also using the road without contributing to the MSBU. A public hearing is being set for December 13 to discuss the addition of properties on the east side to the MSBU..
East and West Rec boundary
The ongoing issue of moving Pioneer Plantation from the West Rec to the East Rec District is not completely over yet. Commissioner Turner wants more outreach to the Pioneer community where parents were so opposed to the recent proposed increase to the West Rec assessment, which would have been dedicated to completing the Hendry-LaBelle Sports Complex.
Many Pioneer residents showed up at a previous commission meeting to object to the additional tax and ask to be placed in the East Rec District. Their reason was that Pioneer kids mainly attend Clewiston schools, which prevents many of them from participating in sports in LaBelle. They argued that Pioneer should be included in the East Rec District.
As Commissioner Turner’s request, staff was directed to attend the next two Pioneer Plantation Homeowners Association meetings to make sure residents understand the boundary change.
Commissioners Harris and Davis wanted to go ahead with the district change with Davis saying, “It
makes sense to put them in East Rec.”
The actual boundary between East and West Rec has yet to be determined. Staff generally used the fire district boundary for their report.
The final vote is set for the board’s December 13 meeting.
Wheeler Estates farm animals.
At the September 27 regular meeting the board recommended staff look into a request for residents to own farm animals in Wheeler Estates. The area, bordered by LeHigh Acres, where farm animals are not allowed, and the Rodina Subdivision, which has an urban future development designation, has approximately 1,600 acres set up mainly in 1.25 acre lots.
Currently only horticultural agriculture is allowed in Wheeler Estates’ multi-use Future Land Use Map, along with residential commercial and industrial uses.
Regulations allow only household animals in the area and Ms. Emblidge told the board it would require a Comprehensive Plan and land use development code change as well as considering how it would fit in with the surrounding properties.
After discussion, staff was directed to investigate and assess current conditions in the area.
Dog and cat breeder regulations
The board moved to simplify the process of dealing with puppy and cat breeders. Previously, the county has had difficulty with dog and puppy mills supplying fighting dogs.
Staff consulted with Clewiston and LaBelle Animal Controls to set forth the proposed new designations for breeders:
– Commercial breeders may raise two or more litters (up to 20 animals) on their premises in a year and must be registered with the USDA.
= Hobby breeders may raise under two litters (up to 19 animals) on their premises per year and only require approval through their local jurisdiction.
Staff believes the process should be regulated by the county, which should work with both cities to determine if they are interested in joining in the process or if it should be applied only to the county’s unincorporated areas.
In deference to the holidays, the county commission will only meet once for its regular first meeting during the months of November and December. The November meeting will be held in Clewiston on November 8.The December 13 meeting will be held in LaBelle.
In other business:
– The board extended the Airglades leases with Doug Kelley (Rocking K Farm) and with USSC for two more four-year terms.
– Chairman Swindle asked staff to look into putting a Welcome to Hendry County sign up on SR 27 at the Glades County line. There are currently four welcome signs at strategic points that were paid for with grant monies. Chairman Swindle asked staff to seek ways that would use grant monies only.
– Commissioner Turner asked staff to look into the cost of broadcasting county commission meetings to the public and to increase press releases and social media.
– Dallas B. Townsend Ag Building grant contracts accepted for MJRDB Architects LLC for structural and architectural services, an outdoor covered pavilion, commercial grade kitchen appliances and office floor replacement.
– The board approved application for two Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program Grants for Phase II and Phase III of the Hendry-LaBelle Sports Complex on Forrey Drive, at $50,000 each.
– The board repealed a tax abatement for Henkay Precast granted several years ago because the company has decided not to move and expand their operation.