DFS City Council approves move for new police headquarters, talks affordable housing [PREMIUM]

CITY MARSHAL JAMES HURLEY addressed the city council on the planned new police headquarters.

By ADRIANNEWALLINE CAMPBELL 

The DeFuniak Springs City Council held its regular meeting on Jan. 24, 2022, at the Walton County Courthouse. Mayor Bob Campbell and City Manager Robert Thompson were both absent but available on Zoom. 

Christopher Strawn, Code Enforcement Officer, presented the zoning variance requested by Rufino Ramirez, concerning property behind Fajitas restaurant. It was approved. 

The variance request for Jay Woerner on behalf of Habitat for Humanity for property located on the NW corner of Chaffin Avenue and 11th Street was approved. 

The 9th Annual Black History Parade will be held on Feb. 19, 2022. The Walton County Democratic Black Caucus will have starting line-up for the parading beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Baldwin Avenue (Baldwin Avenue & South 20th Street). The parade will begin at 11 a.m. on Baldwin Avenue (Baldwin Avenue & South 10th Street). The parade travel east on Baldwin Avenue turn right onto Dorsey Avenue (over the railroad tracks) and end at the Tivoli Complex.

Magnolia Cemetery operating policy will be posted to the city website, shared with new lot owners following a purchase and parts will be used in various brochures and flyers.

The first reading was held of the ordinance adopting the amendment of the Land Development Code of the DeFuniak Springs, Florida, Chapter 18-6 & 18-7. This amendment will provide for a realistic timeline for development and will help further development within the city. Public hearing will be held at the City Council meeting on Feb. 14, 2022.

Buildings shall be completed in accordance with the provisions of the Development Order.

A Development Order shall remain valid if development commences within twelve (12) months and development continues in good faith according to the terms and conditions included in the Development Order.

DeFuniak Springs City Marshal James Hurley, was given approval for the DeFuniak Springs Police Department (DFSPD) headquarters be moved from its current location to the property formally known as The Southland Building located at 99 South 18th Street. By moving, the police department headquarters will provide a cleaner, safer working environment for all the DFSPD employees. The new location will increase accessibility to the citizens of DeFuniak Springs. The City Marshal also requested the use of the warehouse located to the north of the building to be utilized as police storage and impound. 

JAY WOERNER (l) addressed the council on behalf of Habitat for Humanity and Christopher Strawn (r) Code Enforcement Officer, appeared on a variance request.

The interior of the property located at 99 South 18th Street, has approximately 1/3 of the total square footage as usable office space. Construction and modification of the interior space is required to have this location functional as the police headquarters. It is the City Marshal’s long-term goal to turn the entire building into usable workspace. Also, a task order for design/build on Southland building was granted. 

Approval was given regarding Squirrel Haven Road property acquisition.

Council member Anthony Vallee requested a short, open discussion regarding affordable housing within the city. The purpose of the discussion is to allow the sharing of ideas among council members on a range of topics involving affordable housing. Topics of interest include:

1. An update on Council member Kevin Crystal’s recent public meeting on homelessness.

2. Repairs of existing homes for use as housing.

3. Other stakeholders.

4. Incentives.

5. Public input.

6. Next steps

Vallee requested that the city manager pursue a MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Walton County for the maintenance of Harbeson Field. He requested that the MOU with Walton County Athletic League (WCAL) be modified based on the renewed agreement with Walton County.