By REID TUCKER
The DeFuniak Springs City Council kicked off the end to the first quarter of 2014 with another busy but quick meeting agenda, voting to annex 22 acres on the west end of town.
The Council cast straight votes during the March 10 regularly scheduled meeting to accept the property owner’s offer to annex the land, located between Squirrel Haven Road and Gene Hurley Road, near the city limits’ westernmost extremity. Florida State Statute 171.044 provides for such a voluntary annexation so long as the property in question is contiguous with present incorporated municipal boundaries.
In a related matter, Assistant City Manager and Public Works Director Tilman Mears also got the Council’s approval to surplus a structure on the city’s property at 896 Gene Hurley Rd. and to advertise it for sale.
Later in the meeting, the board voted 5-0 to authorize Mayor Bob Campbell to execute an agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation and to pass a resolution in which the city will take over a new FDOT service road following the completion of the U.S. 331 four-lane project. FDOT will build the service road (which City Manager Sara Bowers said will be build to full FDOT specification) to allow easier access for construction equipment needed for the widening project, slated for completion by 2015. The road in question will be located behind some of the fast food restaurants south of Interstate 10.
One of the proposed names for the road upon its annexation by the city is “Bill Holloway Drive,” but that is a matter for a future meeting and was not discussed further on March 10.
The remainder of the meeting was dispatched in short order, with City Marshal Mark Weeks getting the Council’s approval to promote Earl Pennington to the position of lieutenant, filling the space left when Tilman Mears was hired as assistant city manager. Current night patrol officer Chuck White was promoted to the position of detective. However, two other proposed police department promotions were put on hold until next meeting, per the Council’s request, as Weeks informed the board that the final decision as to which applicant to promote to the positions police officer and communications officer had yet been made.
Finally, the Council first voted unanimously to approve the amendment changing city facilities hours and then voted unanimously to repeal it. The board agreed on the content of the amendment, which would change operating hours of the city’s rental property such as the Chautauqua Hall of Brotherhood and the Community Center from 7 a.m. – 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. to midnight.
Councilman Mac Carpenter proposed that the amendment should include language allowing future changes to the hours of operation to be set by resolution, which would save the city the trouble and the expense of advertising and holding a public hearing any time it wished to affect such changes. City Attorney Clay Adkinson said he and city staff will bring the revised amendment before the board at the next regularly scheduled Council meeting, set for March 24.
By REID TUCKER