HIGH SPRINGS ‒ The City of High Springs has, for the second time in a month, denied a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a tobacco and vape shop. The City Commission first denied a permit on Sept. 25, 2023. The City Commission denied a different request by a separate business on Oct. 26. This shop location would have been located at Gator Plaza, 18467 N.W. U.S. Highway 441.

The High Springs Planning and Zoning Board first considered this application and recommended against approval to the High Springs City Commission. Another Gator Plaza business owner, Natalia Castalia, pointed out that the location would be within 20 feet of a daycare center.

The property’s landlord, Dave Chadri, argued that the shop would be on the other side of the Plaza from the daycare center and every gas station and convenience store in High Springs has tobacco and vape products for sale.

The argument failed to sway the Commission, and the denial was by a unanimous vote.

School Resource Officer Agreement

The Commission unanimously approved an agreement between the City and Alachua County School Board to provide two school resource officers (SROs) to the High Springs Community School. The agreement calls for the School Board to pay up to $132,005 as its share of funding for the SROs for the 2023-24 school year.

The School Board’s funding will go toward the cost for salaries, benefits and operating expenses for the SRO.

Mutual Aid Agreement

The Commission also unanimously approved a mutual aid agreement between the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) and the City of High Springs. The agreement permits voluntary cooperation and assistance across jurisdictional lines and provides law enforcement assistance in an emergency between the two agencies.

A mutual aid agreement was in force with previous ACSO Sheriff Clovis Watson, Jr. A new agreement was required since Emery Gainey is now in that position.

Local Business Impact Estimates

The Commission unanimously approved a local business impact estimate ordinance upon second reading. The ordinance is in compliance with Florida Statutes. The ordinance requires municipalities to prepare business impact estimates prior to adopting ordinances that impact business owners.

The law also provides a procedure to challenge ordinances that are adopted by local government, while also setting challenge and waiting periods.

Vacating Undeveloped Right-of-Way

The Commission unanimously approved an ordinance on second reading that allows for the vacation and abandonment of an undeveloped public right-of-way.

The ordinance was created subsequent to an application by Judy Swoyer made vacate the southern half of Whitlock Street and internal alleys within Columbia Heights subdivision. The two applicant-owned parcels are located just north of Tractor Supply and south of 210th Lane, also called Boat Ramp Road.

Surplus Police Vehicles

High Springs Police Department (HSPD) Chief Antoine Sheppard received authorization to surplus four department vehicles including a 2004 BMW police motorcycle and three Crown Victoria cars from 2008, 2006 and 2010.

As these vehicles were all purchased through the General Fund, and income from the sale of these vehicles will be returned to that fund.

Sheppard said that a grant funded 100 percent of the cost of a replacement motorcycle with all equipment included, so there would be no cost to the City. Also, he reported that a grant had been obtained for $20,000 for vests, which are required to be replaced every five years.

Final Comments

City Manager Ashley Stathatos announced that a Hometown Hero Salute, presented by High Springs Mercantile and the GFWC High Springs Woman’s Club, will be held at 3 p.m. at the High Springs Brewery on Saturday, Oct. 28. Just under $1,000 was earned from this event. Proceeds will go toward the High Springs Fire Department for turnout gear and the High Springs Police Department for the purchase of another canine officer.

Stathatos also offered kudos to Kim Arnold who recently became fully certified in urban search and rescue, which requires 200 hours of training.

Mayor Gloria James informed the Commission that two Habitat for Humanity homes held ribbon cutting ceremonies in the past week. She said she was proud that the City provided the properties on which the homes were built.

The next City Commission meeting is scheduled for Nov. 16. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, the second meeting in November will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

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