By ASHLEY AMASON
Despite his request on the agenda, Cipriano Hernandez announced he had already come to an agreement to extend the payment of sewer impact fees with the city, the last payment for which was due June 15, 2011. At the Aug. 8 DeFuniak Springs City Council meeting, Hernandez questioned why police/fire impact fees were not charged to previous tenants in the building, formerly El Mercadito, he leased on U.S. 90.City Planner Greg Scoville answered fire/police impact fees weren’t adopted until 2007.
Hernandez claimed he closed his business after “too much harassment” from the DeFuniak Springs Police Department. He alleged the police department frequented the bar area and “scared” away customers. The Council clarified no arrests were made, and although no noise ordinance exists, a nuisance ordinance was likely the reason for police involvement due to loud music on the property.
“I am sure Chief Weeks will respond and treat it the way it should be treated” City Attorney Clayton Adkinson said.
The Council unanimously approved a fee waiver for C.O.P.E. Center, Inc. to hold a community health and outreach fair—free for the public and providers—at the community center.
Councilman Ron Kelley asked to place the issue of request for fee waivers on next agenda, “to talk about and decide how we want to handle these things.”
Resident Jeanine Cole questioned when Jerry Evans Funeral Home would come before the Council with its request to install a crematorium. Adkinson answered it would likely be the Sept. 26 meeting.
Cole voiced a suggestion that the three area funeral homes jointly place a crematorium in an area outside of city limits. She then told the Council, “Please don’t take offense…[but] this has been going on in my life four years. At what point in time does it become harassment…or cause emotional distress? My whole summer has been taken up with this….”
The committee to rehabilitate the former health department comprised of Kermit Wright, Ed Joyner, and City Marshal Mark Weeks was given the green light for a $200,000 budget. The motion to add $120,000 from funds not used in the 2011 fiscal budget to the existing $80,000 budget carried unanimously.
Wright said the project “would be a very orchestrated event.” Mayor Harold Carpenter added, “We want this project to move forward, rapidly…[we] want to see it done within 18 months.”
The Council unanimously approved awarding its insurance bid to the Florida League of Cities, a premium of $237,302. The only other bid from Public Risk Insurance came in at $336,831.
The city approved a full-time hire in the sanitation department and will advertise for second airport consultant. The Council will host a meeting with the Walton County Board of Commissioners to discuss cost savings by way of a partnership to eliminate duplicate services. Councilman Mac Work suggested the outcome could cover the potential $1/hour salary increase.
Work requested action regarding Helen Crenshaw’s fence, which according to city surveys, shows it sits on city property on Wabash Ave.
Wright declared, “I went down there and looked at it….[it’s]not a fence across a public road, [it’s]not blocking anybody…if you go in that fence, you’re in her yard. To take down that fence, to me, makes no sense whatsoever.” Wright recommended abandoning the street rather than removing the fence.
Adkinson advised against abandonment in order to maintain underground sewer lines and future drainage swell.
Kelley said, “The street we’re talking about is a street on paper only, and that’s all it has ever been…The city seems to be and has been at war with Ms. Crenshaw for years…I wish we’d find some other little old lady and leave Ms. Crenshaw alone…It seems like it’s always something…There has to be some way that is amenable to everybody.” Wright agreed.
Timothy Crenshaw, Helen Crenshaw’s son, announced the property was purchased by his family in 1932 and claimed a fence had always existed in that location. The reason it was an issue now, Crenshaw said, was because a local businessman had removed survey flags from the property and was reported to the state. The city, particularly Adkinson, Crenshaw claimed was acting in retaliation.
“My mom is tired. She needs a break. Every time we turn around she is being attacked about something frivolous,” Crenshaw said….
Read the full story in the Aug.11, 2011 edition of the Herald Breeze.