By ASHLEY AMASON
A slew of fee waiver requests were granted at the DeFuniak Springs City Council meeting Apr. 11, including use of the community center July 30 for Destiny Worship Center’s outreach program Backpack 2 School, which provides free backpacks and school supplies for K-12 Walton County Students, use of the Chautauqua Building by the Walton County Heritage Association for a reception for Art League founder Mary Vincent, and use of the amphitheater for the National Day of Prayer May 5.
The Council unanimously approved a resolution to support the ban of candy-flavored tobacco products in DeFuniak Springs, which students participating in S.W.A.T (students working against tobacco) and members of the Walton County Prevention Coalition brought before the Council. Walton Middle School student Destiny Mason told the Council of being offered candy flavored tobacco on her bus route, and high school student Vanessa Glover shared her experience of becoming addicted to tobacco through chocolate flavored cigarettes. Glover said she knew she would not still be struggling with tobacco addiction had she not enjoyed the sweet taste of chocolate flavored tobacco. “Please help protect our hometown,” she asked.
A public hearing is set for April 25 at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting to discuss code amendments for business signs, sponsorship signs at Harbeson Field and the DeFuniak Springs Recreational Complex (Gene Hurley Park), and permanent real estate signs for multiple tenant buildings.
Timothy Crenshaw discussed forming a citizen’s advisory board to increase “discourse between citizens and the Council.”
Crenshaw said, “We need to have citizens more involved.” He then referenced the June 28, 2010 meeting during which he claimed City Manager Kim Kirby censored subject matter he requested be placed on the agenda regarding a human rights violation and grievance against the DeFuniak Springs Police Department.
“Within the past 21 months, we’ve filed a complaint with the Department of Community Affairs…since [that time] it has been one act of retribution and retaliation against my family ever since,” he said. Crenshaw informed the Council he “transmitted a letter” to Gov. Rick Scott requesting a special investigation into a “factual case of retaliation and intimidation by a city entity as a whole.”
Mayor Harold Carpenter reminded Crenshaw of numerous city advisory boards and stated, “That podium you’re standing at is always open…and we welcome your investigation.”
City Marshal Mark Weeks said in reference to Crenshaw’s allegations, “I do not know to what he’s referring…I like the Mayor would welcome any investigation he has.”
After months of debate and addendum regarding the abandonment of N. 18th Street, the Council voted in favor of abandoning the gravel road, the only drivable access to Helen Crenshaw’s property, which will be assumed by Vista Properties of Fort Walton Beach, owned by James Busby.
The conditions for abandonment are a 24-foot wide paved access drive from U.S. 90 W. to the existing gate at the north property line to be constructed within 24 months or the N. 18th Street right of way will revert back to the city; a recorded easement more or less following the existing gravel drive for access in perpetuity for the property owner to the north maintained by Vista Properties; a portion of Wabash Avenue paved to a 24-foot wide street section constructed by the developer to city standards to include a 20-foot wide drainage easement running east to west on the Northern portion of Busby’s property to intersect with Wabash Avenue.
Before the final recommendation was approved, Busby asked the Council to leave the drive-width open ended until an engineering firm could determine whether the drive’s direction would need to be adjusted for drainage installation. Councilmen voiced their desire to have the width documented before abandonment in order to be fair to the property owner. Attorney Clayton Adkinson declared, “The condition is going to be a 24-foot paved access from Hwy. 90 to the Crenshaw gate.”
Councilman Don Harrison commented it was acceptable for the arch of the driveway to shift slightly for drainage installation as long as “easy access” to the Crenshaw property was maintained.
John Johnson of Land Engineering Services requested another amendment to the recommendation to include that Vista Properties would maintain the 24-foot paved access to the Crenshaw property as long as it was a single-family residence. Mayor Pro-Tempore James Huffman asked, “Why does it matter to Vista if it’s a single family residence or not?”
“Is it fair for Vista to maintain [the road] if it becomes a business,” Johnson asked. Busby clarified the amendment was requested with the possibility of the property becoming an apartment complex or high-traffic area, making the road more difficult to maintain. The Council denied the caveat of a maintaining the road only if it remained a single-family residence.
Helen Crenshaw’s son Timothy spoke on her behalf, and stated the property would remain a single-family residence in an agricultural district as “long as there is a Crenshaw on Earth….”
Read the full story in the April 14, 2011 edition of the Herald Breeze.