The Quincy City Commission addressed a couple of public hearings and ordinances that were on their agenda for their regular first meeting of the month on February 14th.
Ordinance 1087-2017 dealt with the requirements for hiring a Special Code Enforcement Magistrate and how his/her appointment would be handled. It came before the board in second reading. It was enacted unanimously by the panel. The magistrate will serve at the pleasure of the commission after an amendment allowing for a second magistrate to be hired was added to the appointment hearing item.
Also addressed was Ordinance #1088-2017 that inducted a temporary moratorium on the newly-enacted authorization statewide for prescribed medical marijuana use for certain serious diseases passed in large numbers when it appeared on the ballot in November last year. This ordinance appeared as first reading.
One such approved dispensary (out of six) is already in place near the Piggly Wiggly store in Quincy, City Manager Mike Wade said. That unit was approved by the state but is not yet open; it will not be affected by the moratorium.
"Trulieve (one of the state's first such entities approved for the medical marijuana use by prescription) is exempt (by the state's approval)," said City Attorney Scott Shirley.
"They are grandfathered in by the state-pre-exemption in which the state will allow a limited amount of dispensaries and which will be heavily regulated," said Shirley. The ordinance unanimously was passed by the commission.
A representative from the firm Dewberry-Preble Rish Engineering came before the commission to give an update on the city's application for grant funding to replace aging water lines throughout the city. If granted, said the rep, the fees involved to get construction going will be part of the grant. The project will involve some 10,640 feet of water lines that consist of old cast iron piping that are 6" to 8" in size and are at least 50 years old. They are in areas of low- to moderate-income families in 95% of the areas surveyed, said the rep. The city should learn if they will be funded for the $750,000 grant in March, he said.
The board then moved on to a 'Dangerous Building Abatement Issue.' The city should identify dangerous buildings in such bad repair as to be uninhabitable. City Attorney Scott Shirley said the city had previously addressed the city's dilapidated structures and dealt with those getting code enforcement fines.
The issue for many of these locations is that now the city is at the foreclosure point, he said. "We identify some dangerous buildings. The board decides whether to board them up or tear them down. We give a notice of order to the owner. If the owner won't comply within a certain amount of time, the commission is then able to tear it down," said Shirley. There are some 15 properties that have been abandoned some years ago, he said.
After a semantics battle about where to start, the commission gave unanimous approval to authorize staff to begin the abatement program. Commissioner Keith Dowdell said derelict commercial buildings should also be addressed, saying there were some three or four in his district alone. Mayor Derrick Elias said he'd like the city to inventory all dilapidated buildings throughout the city as the commission goes through the process.
The city also addressed the purchase of a 'knuckle-boom' loader for Public Works. That purchase was approved unanimously. The city will keep the old one for back-up utilization if needed.
The city experienced some vandalism at a cemetery in Quincy in which many headstones were damaged or turned over and some destroyed. City staff were thanked for their efforts in quickly cleaning up the problem.
Quincy resident Frieda Bass Prieto told the commissioners that she has seen many people from outside of the city playing geo-caching and other games that bring lots of people into cemeteries and other places. "These are not children, they're older people," she said.
In citizens' time of addressing the council, she said she had spoken with the project manager for the Pat Thomas Parkway upgrades and reported that he had said that the Florida Department of Transportation is adding bicycle lanes to the parkway.