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January 3, 2014

P&Z board to recommend 2 public hearings to BOCC

Live Oak — The Suwannee County Planning and Zoning Board of Adjustments voted 4-0 recently to recommend a resolution that would require two public hearings before the Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners prior to a company seeking to locate at the catalyst site.

Currently, if a company sought a piece of property at the catalyst site, no public hearings would be necessary since the board voted unanimously to allow businesses to locate at the catalyst site “by right,” which would waive certain requirements companies would have to adhere to, including obtaining county permits.

If a company purchases county-owned property on the catalyst site, two public hearings are required for the county to enter into a development agreement with the proposed company, as required by the Florida Statutes.

The public’s cry to change the “by right” language began when Integrated Waste Management Systems began showing interest in locating hospital, medical and infectious waste incinerators at the catalyst site in Western Suwannee County.

As a result, County Administrator Randy Harris provided the county commissioners with a proposal that would add a public hearing to the process before a company can locate at the catalyst site.

According to a county official, the language in the public hearing proposal does not give the commissioners the authority to deny or approve a company’s rights to the site. Allowable uses would remain unchanged which was adopted in the “by right” regulations. If a company meets the broad requirements of allowable uses, the commissioners cannot approve or deny the land.

The proposal stated, “For properties designated as Rural Area of Critical Economic Concern Catalyst Site, any proposed development on said site shall require one public hearing before the Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners. The purpose of the public hearing is for the Commission to receive factual, documented evidence that the proposed development can or cannot adhere to all relevant local, state and federal rules, regulations and guidelines that pertain to the specific development proposal.”

The commissioners then voted 4-1 to adopt the recommendation by Harris of adding a third public hearing. Commissioner Jason Bashaw voted against.

The proposal was then submitted to the planning and zoning board of adjustments to be approved and later moved into the land development regulations for the catalyst site. However, the planning and zoning board recommended there be two public hearings added to the process.

If adopted, two public hearings would be required before a company can locate at the catalyst site. Companies seeking to enter into a development agreement with the county would be required to hold two additional public hearings.

The recommendation will have to pass two public hearings before the county commissioners before it becomes law.

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