By BEN GRAFTON
Before the Freeport City Council meeting of Nov. 12 was called to order, while only a few people were present in the Council room, a woman identified by those present as Kim Holt, proceeded to speak from the back of the room in a very loud voice that dominated the Council room. The woman spoke about numerous complaints. She accused a sheriff’s deputy, who was present for the meeting and who was standing quietly 15 to 20 feet from her, of trying to intimidate her. Councilman Jackson attempted to talk to her but she paid no attention. She finally stopped and left the room without further incident.
After the meeting was called to order by Mayor Russ Barley, City Planner Latilda Hughes reported to the Council that the proposed large scale amendment to the city’s Comprehensive Plan has been reviewed by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO) which offered no objections or comments.
Hughes then presented the first public reading of a the large scale amendment to the city’s Comprehensive Plan which includes proposed amendments to its Future Land Use, Recreation and Open Space, Intergovernmental Coordination, Economic Development, and Urban Service Area Map elements. Copies of the proposed amendments are available to the public in the City Planning Office. The reading was approved by the Council and the second reading of the proposal will be presented at the December Council meeting.
Hughes then moved on to the second reading of an ordinance to annex a large parcel of property running along both sides of U.S. 331 north of its intersection with SR-20. Engineer Matt Parker, speaking for the owner, displayed a map of the parcel for clarification. The parcel is to be annexed as agricultural property with a detailed plan for development to be presented at a later date. The Council approved the ordinance.
Attorney Clay Adkinson discussed the draft of a letter to be sent to customers of the Freeport Water Department giving owners of property adjacent to the city an opportunity to seek annexation, “…at no cost…” Annexation would provide owners with lower utility and insurance rates. The letter asks for a reply by Dec. 31, 2013 indicating whether or not owners desire to take advantage of the offer. It is recognized that not all properties may qualify for annexation because of rules pertaining to enclaves or other issues. The Council approved the action. Hughes will catalog replies on a map which should be ready for review by the end of January 2014.
Park Director Shane Supple reported that winter maintenance has started. The entire park has been over-seeded with rye grass. Observation has been that this action helps the regular grass withstand the hot summer months. Other work will include maintenance on mechanical equipment and buildings.
Supple said that the last weekend of the soccer season is coming up and that registration is underway for the basketball program.
City Clerk Robin Haynes asked for and received Council approval to accept another change in the contract with the Department of Transportation that provides for right-of-way maintenance on U.S. 331 and SR-20 within the city limits.
Haynes reported that the Department of Corrections has asked for approval of the work crew agreement for the coming year. The current agreement expires in April 2014. The request was approved.
Melton Carroll, a resident of Hammock Bay, expressed concern to the Council about the lack of scouting among Freeport children. He is working to establish a scout pack at the middle school. Next year he wants a program for older children, noting that scouting participation is open to young people, including those up to 21 years of age. Carroll wants to establish a program to provide scout uniforms to underprivileged youngsters. He asked for city help in developing the program.
The Council approved a proposal for accountants to start work on the annual audit in December.
Barley reported that more than 200 people attended the opening of the Freeport Heritage Museum. Tim Ard offered thanks for all of the people who have helped with the museum. Many people are interested and are volunteering to help.
Barley also reminded the Council that the first formal Mayor’s Ball will be held in Hammock Bay on Dec. 22. Tickets are available at City Hall and at TJ’s Table. Cost is $50 for couples and $30 for singles.
Dianne Farrell asked the Council for and received approval to install a mobile home on property in Freeport.
By BEN GRAFTON