Story by STACY MARTIN
NOTE: this is the second half of the April 13 regular city council meeting. The first half was published in the April 14 edition of the Herald – Breeze
The legal department began with the Bluffs at Lafayette Developers Agreement which was presented to the council for additional discussion and feedback. The developers requested capacity for 242 lots which the city is not able to fully serve. An idea was presented to the council to incorporate “Package Plants.”
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website, “Package plants are pre-manufactured treatment facilities used to treat wastewater in small communities or on individual properties.” This will become an opportunity for the city to gain one to two package permits which will allow the developer to pay the capacity fees and be able to get started on the development until the wastewater treatment facility (WWTF) is ready to be hooked up to its system. The developer will provide the land to set up the plant, and once the plant is delivered, will develop, maintain, and break down once the development is hooked up to the city’s new system. The plant can then be moved and stored until further use is needed.
The package plant being considered is out of Pensacola and servicing would take an hour. “We are not entering into this agreement to get $1.9 million to go buy a package plant. We are not going to get into a position with capacity fees, or any other fees, where the developer’s fees only cover their development, that’s not what these fees are for,” said City Attorney Clay Adkinson, who explained that this move with the package plants will allow the developer to get started with the development and pay into the city’s system.
Cliff Knauer also addressed the council on the package plants and noted these plants are not new to the area. A school in Baker has one and one was also installed at Mossy Head Elementary. Knauer said the package plants become a “tool in the toolbox” that Freeport will be able to use, tear down, and relocate if needed. The council voted in favor of the project procedures with a motion from Council member Mark Martin, seconded by Elizabeth Haffner.
The next item from legal was the 2nd reading of Shaw Securities, Inc. & Shamrock Dunes, LLC annexation. The council opened the floor for a public hearing. Receiving no public comment, the floor was closed and the council voted to approve the second reading and adoption of ordinance 2021-01 unanimously.
From the engineering department, Alex Rouchaleau with Dewberry requested a motion to bid on the Barrier-Free Park Phase I Improvement Project. The council voted unanimously in favor of the request.
In new business, Mayor Russ Barley reminded the council about the term limits on the city manager position held by Charlie Simmons. The city voted to hire Simmons as city manager, however, his contract time will be up in four months. The council held a discussion about keeping Simmons in the position until some of the projects have been seen through. The city attorney will bring back something for the council to review at the next council meeting.
The next item from Barley was a request for approval to cover mileage for the city manager’s having attended a city function in Atlanta. The council voted to approve the reimbursement for his mileage and direct the city manager to submit his mileage.
The third item from the mayor discussed the forensic audit set for April 22 before the city council meeting; however, the audit could take up to a minimum of two hours. The council directed staff to look into an alternate date for the audit presentation and to set it as a special meeting separate from the council meeting.
The last item from the mayor was a discussion that Crosspoint and other churches would hold a special service outside city hall for the May 6 National Day of Prayer.
Council member Eddie Farris discussed obtaining a possible sound system at the Sports Complex. The council agreed to allow the parks director to look into estimates for a new system.
Farris’s next item concerned placing a flag pole behind the outfield fence on the field instead of hanging a flag from the fence line. Parks Director Travis Digges said that there is an extra pole at Marse Landing. The council approved allowing parks to relocate the extra pole to the baseball field.
The last item from Farris was a request to display the phrase “In God We Trust” in the city council chambers via a plaque on the wall. The council approved the request with one nay from council member Amanda Green.
Council member Green informed the council of the April 20 School Board workshop concerning the new Freeport Middle School plans built in the Hammock Bay subdivision.
On April 21, at 6:30 p.m. there will be a community town hall meeting held at city hall to discuss infrastructure, parks, governmental complex, traffic control, and new planning development. The next regular council meeting will be held on April 22, at 6:30 p.m. in city hall.