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HIGH SPRINGS ‒ City of High Springs residents received good news on Oct. 8 as the High Springs City Commission approved reducing property owners’ fees for water and wastewater and not to increase solid waste removal service fees for this fiscal year.

Resolution 2020-K and Resolution 2020-L are changing the way in which fees are determined. Both resolutions will determine adjusted yearly fees based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is maintained by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Each year adjustments will be based on a comparison of the CPI for the July immediately preceding the effective date of the adjustment (this year July 2020) to the CPI for the July of the preceding year, which is initially, July 2019.

Last year the City raised the fees for water and wastewater by one dollar each. This fiscal year, the City is dropping both one-dollar fees effective Oct. 8. In an effort to keep up with the cost of living, the City will adjust fees using the CPI rate instead.

The base rate for water will be increased $0.09 instead,” said Finance Director Jennifer Stull. “People’s wastewater bills will increase by $0.07/1,000 gallons,” she said. “That means that the fees are actually going to be lower this year than last because we are dropping the $1 fees.”

The same procedure will take place for solid waste removal services. However, the City’s solid waste haulers have not increased their rate for this fiscal year, but will increase their fees effective October 2021. Therefore, fees for solid waste will not increase this fiscal year.

Following a brief discussion, Commissioner Jamison made a motion to approve Resolution 2020-L, which was seconded by Commissioner Gloria James. The motion was approved unanimously in roll call vote.

In other business, a zoning change request approved by the High Springs Planning and Zoning Board on Sept. 22, was denied by City Commissioners on first reading of Ordinance. 2020-11. During the Oct. 8 Quasi-Judicial Public Hearing, Commissioners and several citizens expressed concern about allowing the 89.69+/- acres of land adjacent to Bailey Estates to be rezoned from R-1A Residential to R-3 Residential.

R-1A Single-family Residential is intended to accommodate low- and medium-density single-family residences. R3 Residential is intended primarily to accommodate medium-density single-family detached residential uses. R3 zoning allows many more uses within that district than R-1A. Mobile homes are allowed in R-1A zoned districts, but they are listed as “provisional,” while mobile homes are a “permitted” use in a R3-zoned district.

The change to the City’s Land Use Map was requested on behalf of J.H. Londono, agent for SAFECA Ltd. Ryan Thompson of CHW Professional Consultants made the presentation and answered most of the questions. Craig Brashier of CHW was on hand as well.

Thompson said that the lot sizes would be similar to those in Bailey Estates.

Commissioners were hesitant to approve the application. However, comments from several citizens seemed to solidify their resolve to deny the request at this time.

An email was received by the City prior to the meeting from Chris Greene, who said he opposed the zoning change. A voice mail message was received from Brad Little, also expressing opposition to the change. Others against the zoning change included Pamela Landis, Mike Gentry, Nicholas Thomas and Audrey Copenhagen.

Their concerns ranged from existing volume of traffic in that area, to the already overcrowded Community School facility, to the degradation of small-town culture, to an inadequate traffic study that only looked at U.S. Highway 441 and also to the number of homes on the lot sizes.

Following the lengthy discussion, Commissioner Nancy Lavin moved to deny the application and Commissioner Linda Jones seconded. Lavin said she didn’t think the City has the infrastructure to approve the application. Further discussion centered on whether the Commission should table the item to a time certain or table indefinitely.

The motion to table until CHW has addressed the Commissioners’ and the public’s concerns and brings it back to the City received a 4 -1 vote with Lavin casting the dissenting vote.

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