HIGH SPRINGS – The High Springs City Commission on Aug. 24 gave approved on first reading to a zoning change requested by Josh Blackford of Turnsole Builders, LLC. The 2.39 +/- acres property is located south of U.S. Highway 441 and west of Memorial Park, and will be rezoned from R-1 (Residential) to C-3 (Commercial).
The property is anticipated to be used as a multi-storage facility. Concerns about the proximity of the site to the City’s three wells were raised, but those issues were quelled by a map that showed the distance of the property to the wells.
In other property action, the site plan for LifeSpring Church was also approved for the construction of a church on 11.71 +/- acres of land located at the unassigned address within the 15,000 block of Northwest State Road 45 (US Highway 41/27). The property is currently zoned R-1A, which allows for places of worship by right. City Manager Ashley Stathatos reported that “The site plan meets or exceeds all City regulations.”
Commissioner Katherine Weitz recused herself from voting on this issue, which passed in a 4-0 vote.
The property’s neighbor, Andrew Weitz, expressed concern about what appeared to be a sidewalk close to the next property, but was told that what he was seeing on the map was an underground utility easement which seemed to resolve the concern.
Vice-Mayor Ross Ambrose said the only thing he would like to see added to the plan was Dark Sky lighting, but he was reassured that there would be very little bright lighting on the property.
In other business, the Commission approved two related agreements related to foreclosure properties. The Commission approved an agreement for online foreclosure property registration services with HERA Property Registry, LLC of Melbourne, Florida, provides for monitoring of mortgage defaults, registration fee collections and late fee/penalty collections. Currently, the City has 28 properties in active foreclosure.
Previously, this service was provided to the City by Property Registration Champions, which is now out of business.
HERA will retain $100 of each registration fee collected and thirty-three percent of late fees. The city attorney recommended that approval of the agreement be contingent on several legal clauses, which were made part of the motion to approve.
The Commission also approved a related agreement for professional services with Break Point Law, LLC to provide property enforcement services for recovery of outstanding foreclosure property registration fees and associated fines and penalties that are over 30 days past due. This will include preparing all necessary municipal lien documents, witness statements/affidavits, invoice statements and/or other necessary documentation to enforce municipal lien/debts.
As part of this agreement, Break Point will retain 33 percent of all fines and penalties recovered on behalf of the City and will remit their fees to HERA Property Registry, LLC. HERA will remit to High Springs’ its portion of the fees in accordance with their contract with HERA.
Break Point, HERA and High Springs each agree to withdraw from these agreements at any time upon 60 days written notice to the other parties.
In other business, the Commission unanimously amended the Mayor’s Youth Council Ordinance to modify the number of Board Members from seven to five and to allow the two alternative Board members to vote. This measure also sets Board member terms to begin and expire in November of each year.
Addressing s variety of issues that had been raised, Assistant City Manager Bruce Gillingham said that the property next to Memorial Park will be kept up in the future. He also said, in response to an earlier question, that all three of the City’s water wells were drilled to the same depth.
In response to a question about opting out of the City’s trash ordinance, Gillingham said City staff had looked into it, but there didn’t seem to be any way for an opt-out clause. He added that signs identifying appropriate truck routes were being created and would be posted as soon as they arrive.
Commissioner Byran Williams asked the City Attorney to look into the possibility of posting a sign requiring visitors to City Hall must wear a shirt and shoes to be admitted.
The next City Commission meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 14.
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