Story by ADRIANNE WALLINE CAMPBELL
The DeFuniak City Council held its regular meeting on March 13, 2023, at the city hall, 1350 Baldwin Ave. City Attorney Clay Adkinson was not present.
Mayor Bob Campbell proclaimed March 2023 American Red Cross Month.
Scott Caraway with North Walton Mosquito Control provided information about its services. Around the year 1987 the Walton County Commissioners set up funding via the millage rate to support it, but only the unincorporated areas of Walton County. In the year following, the cities and the county entered into an interlocal agreement to pay about $10,800 to the mosquito control for services. They are preparing to present to the Board of County Commissioners a request to make the millage rate the same across the board for all Walton County, both incorporated and unincorporated: 0.4912%, and to have a public hearing about it. The council approved their request.
Citizen Melinda Henderson commented about the large number of bats, and suggested that mosquito control would help with that problem.
Discussion was made about the repairs needed for the DeFuniak Library: the roof, the stairs, gutters, and bringing the bathrooms up to ADA compliance. Interim City Manager Mike Barker said they are trying to add the library to the historic register again. If they are approved, they can apply for a grant of $100,000 to replace the roof. Barker wants to hold discussions about estimated costs for various needed repairs – particularly the roof, which he said is the key issue. He believes the deadline to apply for the grant is June 30.
Discussion was held concerning a proposal from ABM Building Solutions, but as Attorney Clay Adkinson was not present, the item was tabled to the next meeting.
The contract for the band, Mulligans, to play at Lakefest this year was also tabled. The contract appeared to be incomplete. They would charge $8,000 to play at the event.
Daniel Edwards, Airport Director, requested a rental agreement revision for the hangars. There are tenants that have rented too large a space for their need because there wasn’t anything else available. They want to sub lease the remaining portion of the hangar. In the presentation request for the agenda item, Edwards stated: “The region is experiencing a massive demand on aircraft hangar space. Per Section 10 of the current commercial aircraft storage agreement, tenants are not allowed to sublease available space in their hangar. I recommend allowing tenants to sublease or ‘share’ available space in their hangar to allow for maximum aeronautical use of hangars. This will also allow for immediate use of available hangar space in the event urgent action is required. i.e., disabled aircraft and inclement weather sheltering. Hangar sharing would only be allowed upon airport director’s documented approval.”
The financial impact was stated as: “Increased number of aircraft on airfield will increase revenue via fuel sales and airport services. Also, a tenant sublease fee, due to the city may also be incurred.” This item was also tabled until Adkinson is present.
Discussion was held concerning the lift station and force main that is south of I-10 and the loan payments that are to be paid to the state.
Planning Director Chris Wallace presented Tony Dawson of SBA Towers who spoke concerning the 125’ monopole they want to install at 1226 U.S. South. This would be made to resemble a tree, and their first customer would be Verizon, but multiple providers would be welcomed. It is rated up to 138 mph.
Council member Todd Bierbaum commented that he had investigated both sides of public safety and health argument (microwave) concerns about the tower, but did not find anything convincing about the effects of radiation.
Airport Director Daniel Edwards said that in the study, the airport was not accurately described (as a “dirt field…low usage” DFR only strip) in their study regarding the location of the tower. “It’s a real concern,” especially if the future includes an larger, public airport with instrument approach.
FAA would have to make the determination. Once the approval of height and location was given, the plans would be sent to the consultant and the administrative portion of the issue would be concluded. Wallace agreed to consult, provide information and work with Edwards as the project proceeded.
Note: The agenda form submitted to the council (“Special Approval to construct a 125’ monopole at 1226 Highway 331 South”) for the March 13 meeting contains a lengthy attachment with memoranda, technical specifications, plans, maps, and exhibits detailing the proposed tower. It can be accessed and viewed online at the City of DeFuniak Springs website, defuniaksprings.net
Under Public Hearings/Ordinances, presented by Planning Director Chris Wallace:
Denise Anderson received approval to hold a second reading for a rezoning from R-2, Multi- Family Residential and C-2, Commercial to R-2 and C-2. Although the property currently contains the requested designation, they would like to adjust the boundaries of the districts. There is one 98.2-acre parcel included in this request. (parcel # 03-2N-19-18000-010-0000). It is located on the Northwest corner of Hwy 331 South, and I-10. It was approved also to hold a second hearing to amend the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) from Agricultural and MDR, Medium Density Residential to Commercial and MDR.
Staff proposed a buffer around the historic district that would require any new off-premises signs (billboards) be at least 500’ from the historic district. The council approved the first reading.
Barry Katz has received approval that the city abandon a 20’ wide undeveloped alley that is located on U.S. 331 S, just north of Myrtle Street. Katz owns the property to the north and south of the alleyway, the abandonment would allow him to combine the two parcels into one larger parcel to facilitate future development of the site. There are no public utilities located within the alleyway and it will not be used for future access. Council member Anthony Vallee expressed support for the abandonment. It was approved.
Under Resolutions: the city resolved to support the “Corridor Identification Program” for federal funding to study the feasibility of Amtrak expansion in Northwest Florida.
There were no Citizens Comments.
There was no City Attorney report.
The council approved to direct staff to hold a joint meeting of municipal and county staff, from planning and public works, for the purpose of developing policies and recommendations for interlocal agreements relating to traffic impacts on county roads within the various municipalities. The TAC (Transportation Advisory Committee) has recommended that its members reach out to their respective boards and request that staff meet for the purpose of developing a comprehensive solution to issues regarding traffic impacts and Proportionate Fare Share on county roads within the city limits of DeFuniak Springs, Freeport, and Paxton.
It was noted that are three more applicants for finance director, and review is proceeding on their applications.
• In compliance with State of Florida Rule 11D-9, F.A.C., City of DeFuniak Springs approved the distribution of $38,410.00 (total allocation available) of Federal Fiscal Year 2021 Edward Byrne Memorial JAG-Countywide Program funds for the following projects: City of DeFuniak Springs PD Enhancing Law Enforcement Through Traffic Safety Cameras $3,841; and Walton County Sheriff’s Office Pursuit Termination Devices $34,569.
• City Marshal James Hurley presented a change to a purchase order on a 2023 Chevrolet Tahoe. The original submission was for a vehicle equipped with a prisoner transport cage only. The new quote changes the prisoner cage to a ¾ dog kennel and ¼ prisoner cage on the purchase order on 2023 Chevrolet Tahoe.