Last updateWed, 30 Nov 2016 11pm

High Springs to Re-focus on Impact Fees

HIGH SPRINGS – One item on the High Springs City Commission Oct. 13 agenda that caught the attention of local developers was the city’s Impact Fee Ordinance, which they claim is conflict with the intent of the ordinance.

Local developer Jack Londono addressed commissioners reminding them that three items were to be part of the ordinance based on earlier discussions.

Impact fees would be due at the time the Certificate of Occupancy (referred to as CO) would be issued, which is at the time of sale.

Water usage to establish the outside landscaping would be charged at a nominal fee.

The developer would not be charged for sewer usage when they were trying to establish outside planting.

He asked that the commission live up to their original agreement.

Developer Rick Howe explained how developers are paid and supported Londono's request that they not have to pay sewer fees while establishing the landscaping.

City Attorney Scott Walker suggested a simple resolution could correct the problem, Weller suggested that one ordinance contain all of the information rather than having developers and homeowners look in two places to find out what they are supposed to do. “We will craft something to bring back to the commission for their approval,” said Walker after hearing all of the comments.

In other action, commissioners rejected a resolution originally proposed during the Sept. 19 meeting by Nick Loffer, a representative for Stand Up North Florida. While it read as if it was in support of north and central Florida water conservation funding, Loffer would only say the organization was a non-profit group.

Between the two meetings, commissioners received information from environmental groups that there were questions about the group and their true intentions.

“I am in favor of equal funding of these types of projects throughout the state,” said Commissioner Sue Weller. “But questions about the exact intent of this resolution lead me to err on the side of caution and not vote to approve it.”

No other commissioner made a motion to approve the resolution, therefore, no action was taken.

Under unfinished business, two land parcels the city is attempting to donate to Habitat for Humanity received commission attention. The first parcel had a lien on it from the Internal Improvement Fund. Representatives from Habitat for Humanity said they were willing to take the deed with the lien.

The second piece of property had been provided to the city originally with a reverter clause attached indicating that the property could only be used for a wastewater treatment lift station or a public park. The county attorney suggested the property be deeded back to the county and they would deed it directly to Habitat for Humanity without the reverter clause. Although once donated back to the county, the county can do with it what they want, cautioned City Attorney Scott Walker. Walker said he had the paperwork for the appropriate signatures and no further action was necessary.

Two “housekeeping” issues were also addressed at the meeting. An interlocal agreement between the city and Columbia County Sheriff's Office for police services was unanimously approved. A second interlocal agreement between the city and Gainesville for maintenance and operation of traffic signals and school beacons was also unanimously approved. The cost to the city on the second agreement is $3,444.

Commissioners approved donating surplus police equipment to Santa Fe College and appointed Mayor Byran Williams to be the city's representative to the Florida League of Cities.

Announcements: November meeting dates have been modified to avoid holidays. Nov. 17 and 29 are the dates for November meetings with Nov. 17 being the date for the swearing in of the new commissioner. Meetings in December are scheduled only for Dec. 8.

A Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will be held on Nov. 18 and the Christmas Parade is scheduled for Dec. 10.

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Hurricane Matthew Fickle in its Impacts

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Hurricane Matthew brought rain and wind to Alachua County accompanied by power outages and downed trees. (Today photo/RAY CARSON)

ALACHUA – Last week, Hurricane Matthew tore its way across the Caribbean and up the southeast coast of the United States. It will rank as one of the most powerful storms, based on sustained wind energy and longevity, with winds over 110 mph for seven days. There were at least 925 deaths, including 19 in the United States, making it the deadliest storm since Hurricane Stan in 2005.

But Alachua County was lucky. There were fears and expectations that Florida would get a direct hit, causing wind damage and power outages over most of the state. But as the storm made its way up the coast, it remained between 30 and 50 miles offshore, lessening the damage inland. For Alachua County, it meant that winds of 35 mph with occasional gusts up to 60 and lighter rainfall than predicted. The brunt of storm hit the local area on Friday Oct. 7. Damage was fairly light for the county and mainly confined to downed trees or downed electrical wires.

According to Lieutenant Brandon Kutner of the Alachua Sheriffs Office, they received 56 calls for downed power lines and 80 calls for downed trees. Although there were sporadic power outages, most of the lines were repaired by Saturday morning. The High Springs Police department received 20 calls, mainly for downed power lines due to falling tree limbs. According to High Springs City Manager Ed Booth, they did have one large tree that fell across the road at 176th Place. It blocked the road and damaged three cars. City crews were able to clear the road by Saturday morning.

The Alachua Fire Department reported no calls or damage reports, as did the LaCrosse Fire Department. In Waldo, City Manager Kim Worley said that they had reports of downed trees, but no power outages. Hawthorne Mayor Matthew Surrency reported they fared well. “We had a couple of power lines go down and power outages to about 5 percent of our residents, but it was resolved quickly. It was a lot less than we feared, but we had services in place,” said Surrency. “It was good to have a dry run to see how well we were prepared.”

Matthew hugged the southeast coast from Florida to North Carolina, causing 2 million people to evacuate inland, tearing up coastal cities with wind and storm surge. The storm surge destroyed State Road A1A in Flager Beach and surged inland in Saint Augustine, flooding the historic downtown with several feet of water. Over a million people were left without power in Florida alone.

The storm made landfall near Charleston, South Carolina, but had weakened from a Category 4 storm to a Category 2. But the tide and storm surge was still devastating, especially to the outer banks of North Carolina, with surges over six feet high. Estimates on the damage for insured loses range between $4 - $6 billion.

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Newberry Man Dies in Single-Vehicle Crash

NEWBERRY – A 48-year-old Newberry man lost his life late Saturday evening in a single-vehicle accident.

According to a Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) report, Tracy Eugene Tindall was driving his white 2005 Ford F-150 pick-up truck, traveling north on U.S. Highway 27, four miles south of Newberry, at 10:45 p.m.

For unknown reasons, Tindall's truck veered off the roadway onto the left (westernmost) sloped shoulder where its front left side side-swiped a large tree, impacting the entire left side of the vehicle's cab and encroaching heavily into the driver's side door and truck compartment, tearing the door off the frame.

The truck was then induced into a sharp, counter-clockwise rotation, where it then came to rest in the adjacent tree line.

During the course of the rotation, Tindall's unbelted body was partially ejected from the compromised driver's side door, and was found adjacent to it.

Alachua County Fire Rescue responded to the scene of the collision and pronounced Tindall dead upon their arrival. The investigation into the crash is ongoing.

At this time, FHP has not determined whether alcohol was a factor in the crash.

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Two area women killed in head-on collision

GAINESVILLE/WALDO – A head-on collision at the 6900 block of Northeast 39th Avenue resulted in the death of two area women on Sunday, Sept. 18.

The Gainesville Police Department (GPD) received multiple reports of a serious crash at 6:40 p.m. An Alachua County Sheriff's Office deputy arrived on the scene as the calls came in. Initial reports indicated that a head-on collision had occurred with one person ejected from a vehicle.

A preliminary investigation revealed that a 2010 gray Toyota Corolla, driven by 28-year-old Brittany Nichole Griswell, Gainesville, was westbound on Northeast 39th Avenue. She was in a long curve east of Gainesville Regional Airport when her vehicle left the roadway. Griswell over-corrected, went back onto the roadway and lost control of her car.

Griswell’s car continued westbound into the eastbound lane and struck a 2015 grey Nissan Sentra, driven by 52-year-old Drenda Dale Weaver of Waldo, head-on. Weaver was pronounced dead at the scene.

Griswell was ejected from her vehicle and was transported to a local hospital in very serious condition. “Griswell did not make it through the night and passed away,” said GPD Officer Ben Tobias late Monday night.

A full Traffic Homicide Investigation is ongoing. “It is unknown at this time if drugs or alcohol were involved,” said Tobias.

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Upgrades on Tap for Newberry's Fire Station

NEWBERRY – Upgrades to the City of Newberry’s fire station received approval at the Aug. 22 commission meeting following a presentation by Facilities Supervisor Travis Parker.

Parker said the main changes included the addition of an ambulance bay and modifications to the sleeping quarters.

Other changes include relocation of the fire chief's office, and in future, that space will be the office and sleeping quarters for the lieutenant. Currently, the open sleeping quarters area has room for four beds. Renovations will increase the bed capacity to five and allow for more privacy.

The changes are expected to increase the overall size of the facility to 2,270 sq. ft., including the ambulance bay.

In an effort to move the project along, Parker told commissioners he already advertised for bid, but said he could add any changes the commission might want to make. Hearing no changes, the plans will move ahead to a bid opening Sept. 14 and a request for acceptance of the winning bid at the commission meeting of Sept. 26.

Parker estimated it will take 180 days for construction, which means the project should be completed by late March 2017.

The City's firefighters have offered to perform some of the construction work to help save the City time and money in updating the facility, said City Manager Mike New. “Who knew we had so many contractors working as firefighters,” he said with a chuckle.

The ambulance bay is estimated to cost approximately $70,000, with the balance of the fire station renovations estimated at $215,000, said New.

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