Church gets compromise on new construction fees

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Williston City Council meeting

By Pat Hibbs

Representatives of the Church of God appeared at Tuesday evening’s Williston City Council meeting with a request for relief from fees necessary to begin construction of their new facility.

Though Eric Brooks was more concerned with the building permit fees, estimated at about $40,000, than he was with impact fees, his request sparked a lively debate about water and sewer impact fees. Those are fees paid to the city for new construction according to a formula specified in the city code. They are designed to provide for new water and sewer treatment plants when the city’s capacity is reached.

Councilman Marc Nussel said that he felt that impact fees are anti-growth and that they should be abolished. He made a motion to that effect; it was seconded by Councilman Brooks Holloway for purposes of discussion. Nussel contended that funds needed for future growth should be raised in some other way.

City finance director Mark Schiefer pointed out that, if the city abolished impact fees and waited until it needed new facilities to fund them, any effort to raise the money necessary would be an undue burden on long-time users of the service.

After some further discussion, Nussel’s motion was defeated; he was the only member to vote in favor of it.

The talk then turned to the building permit fees. City Manager Marcus Collins said that the fees covered the services of the building inspector both in reviewing plans and verifying proper construction at the site. Holloway suggested that, for the church, the actual cost be charged at the end of the project rather than at the beginning.

Councilman Mike Shoemaker came up with the final compromise: the church would pay $20,000 before the building permit was issued. At the end of the project, before the certificate of occupancy was approved, the total costs would be presented to the church and they would pay anything above the $20,000. If actual costs came in below that figure, the city would refund the difference. That seemed to satisfy all participants.

Council passed, on its second and final reading, Ordinance 595, which sets fines for parking violations in the city. Fines are $25 for violation of restricted parking zones and fire lanes and $150 for infractions in handicapped spaces. Provisions are made for appeal of all parking fines. The final ordinance reflected the conclusions of a lengthy discussion at the last meeting of the council.

Council members also accepted the consulting engineers’ recommendations for contractors on two projects at the airport. All Florida Enterprises was low bidder on the turf runway and security fencing project, coming in at $78,475.

V.E. Whitehurst and Sons, Inc., was awarded the contract for Taxiways C and D and the apron. Their total bid of $717,549.79 is about $48,000 less than the budgeted amount.

Schiefer assured Shoemaker that all costs are covered by grant monies and that there will be no cost to the citizens of Williston.

Burt Wetherington invited the city to participate in “Yulee Diddley Day” in Archer on June 6. He said that the day honors David Yulee Levy, Florida’s first senator, and the late Bo Diddley, who maintained his residence in Archer. Wetherington outlined the day’s festivities, which begin with a parade at 10 a.m., and include an evening concert featuring the Bo Diddley Family Band and many other artists.

There will also be a Native American village, arts and crafts booths, food vendors and a salute to military veterans on the 65th anniversary of D-Day.

Traudi Miller-Moss informed the council that the Levy County Planning and Zoning Board was about to hear a proposal for a new limerock mine just outside the city limits. She said that she and many others owned small businesses in the area and were adamantly opposed to the operation. She noted that the county had sent out 500 letters informing residents of the zoning board hearing.

Because the project is in the county and not within city limits, the council has no jurisdiction, but thanked Miller-Moss for the information. Collins will examine the documentation to determine whether the city should take a position on the matter.

Council President Debra Jones said she had interviewed all four of the candidates for city clerk and that she found them all to be equally satisfactory. The candidates are Peggy Dionne, Valerie Anderson, Stephanie Emrick and Rose Fant. Emrick was in the audience; she has attended the last few council meetings.

Jones expressed some reservation about Dionne because she lives in Apopka; the other three candidates are local. Dionne told Jones that she would rent something in the area to live in during the week.

After some discussion, it was agreed that Collins would choose the new city clerk, since she will report to him. He expects to make the decision promptly.

Councilman Steve Holcomb reported ruefully that it was likely that no FRDAP grants would be available for parks this year. He asked permission, however, to look into a skateboarding facility. He presented some information on a system that is modular and can be tailored to any piece of land. He will do some further investigation.

City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 7 p.m. An agenda is available online or at City Hall on the preceding Friday.