By BEN GRAFTON
For the first order of business at the Freeport City Council meeting of Feb. 8, City Planner Latilda Henninger presented the second readings of proposed ordinances to adopt a Small Scale Amendment to the Comprehensive Plan and a zoning change for a 3.1 acre parcel off of Bay Loop Road owned by Freeport Real Estate Investments. Zoning for the parcel would be changed from Rural Village to medium density development. The plan for development will be presented for approval at a later date. The Council approved the proposed ordinances.
Fire Chief Ben Greenslait gave the Council copies of the department’s annual report which notes that the coverage area is now 125 square miles including 17.5 square miles for the city of Freeport. In 2010 the department responded to a total of 851 calls, of which 416 were within the city limits and 530 were medical responses. The department was also involved with the activities of the Empty Stocking Fund, the annual Easter Egg Hunt, Halloween Safe Night and holiday parades.
Parks Director Shane Supple reported that a program is underway to install an aerator in the back pond at the Sports Complex to help control algae and snakes.
Angie Jay of Preble-Rish Engineering said that work is nearing completion on the permits needed for the North Bay water line project. She said there has been no further progress on receipt of loan funds from USDA Rural Development because the district office still has not received approval from the state office.
Jay reported that the Four Mile Bridge lift station is on line and that all of the lift stations will be on line in a few weeks.
Mayor Mickey Marse reported that bids to provide engineering services to relocate city utility lines as a part of the widening of U.S. 331 were received from three engineering companies. Of these Peters Municipal Associates of Dothan, Ala. had been ranked first at a special Council meeting on Feb. 7. The Council approved a motion to award the work to this firm.
Marse said that an appraisal of the property where the Four Mile Creek lift station is located came in at $2,500. The property is zoned “conservation.” The county is surveying the road and site now. The Council approved offering the appraised value to Smith to settle the dispute over the easement for the property.
Henninger reported that submission of business registration forms is not yet complete but those reporting so far provide jobs for 222 workers. This group includes submissions by five churches. Henninger expressed surprise at the number of employees reported by some businesses. She also said this information would help in business development planning and that businesses in the city would be listed on the city’s web page.
Marse reported that a grant in the amount of $260,000 that the city applied for in behalf of the Walton County Economic Development Alliance (WCEDA) will be approved. Consulatant Bob Jones is working on the proposal. The funds will be used for road paving in the Industrial Park. The total project cost is about $350,000 and WCEDA will provide additional funding.
Marse said another grant in the amount of $461,000 is expected to be received for energy conservation to change some of the lighting at the Sports Complex over to solar power and to provide higher efficiency pumps for the water wells. Engineering audits are required before the grant will be given.
Councilman Ray Jackson reported he has had calls from three coaches and about a half-dozen parents who want lights turned on at the baseball fields for evening practices. Other Council members reported similar calls. Councilman Charlie Simmons said that the total cost of lighting for little league and T-ball games has been determined to be $6,000 per year. Lighting for practices would add about $4,000 to this. The issue has been previously discussed with the Sports Association which understands the cost burden and has agreed not to practice under lights. City Attorney Clayton Adkinson said that the callers should be referred to the little league officials to register their complaints.