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February 7, 2014

Suwannee commissioners reject LDR amendment adding a public hearing process for uses at the catalyst site

Live Oak —

The Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners voted 5-0 Tuesday night to deny the planning and zoning board’s recommendation of having two public hearings before commissioners, prior to a company seeking to locate at the catalyst site. The board could have also voted to allow just one public hearing which was previously proposed in a resolution. 

Currently, if a company seeks 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.

However, two public hearings are required for the county to enter into a development agreement with any company that wishes to locate on county-owned property at the catalyst site, as required by Florida Statutes. 

According to a county official, current language 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 technically cannot approve or deny the land. They can, however, ask they company to seek elsewhere, as was the case with a medical waste incinerator facility that sought land on county-owned property at the catalyst site. 

Local resident Lori McCraney asked Chairman Phil Oxendine why have two public hearings anyway when no action could be taken.

“What kind of weight does this amendment have in terms of having authority on land use approval?” McCraney asked.

“If something comes before us and we vote against it, it won’t go through,” Oxendine said.

“Isn’t that in conflict with the ‘by right’ clause?” McCraney asked. “Is there any authority given to the board by this amendment?”

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