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Commission approves SP 2019-10, a welding shop business in Agriculture land use

The Gilchrist County Commission took action to approve a Site and Development Plan, SP 2019-10 to allow a welding shop in an A-2 agriculture land use for Jeff and Rhonda Jordan of Bell. The Commission’s deliberation was a continuation from an August 2019 meeting. The Jordans through their legal counsel Michael Osteen requested the Commission allow the addition of a 6,000 square foot metal building to be added to the site plan for additional room needed when the business expands. They also requested the new business be allowed to have an increase in employees from 9 full time to 25 employees in the future. Gilchrist County Administrator Bobby Crosby told the Commission that staff had received the site plan for this application on Monday morning. Jeff Jordan told the Commission that he has provided the building department with everything that has been asked of he and his wife, involving this business expansion on their homestead property at 1310 SW 32nd Place, Bell, Florida.
The staff explained to the Commission that the 6000 square foot metal building is not shown on the site plan. The Commission allowed the applicants to increase the number of employees proposed for this business to be considered in the application.
Attorney Osteen asked that the Commission approve the request involving the metal building and the additional employees. He explained that he is the attorney for the Dixie County Board of Commissioners and this is legal and the board can approve this included in SP 2019-10.
Commission Chairman Gray asked the public if anyone wanted to address the Commission involving this site and development plan application. Chris Black asked the Commission why is there a problem involving a welding shop. Why is the Commission trying to limit the size of the expansion and growth of this business? Black was told that a small welding shop is allowed as a home operated type of business in an A-2 zoning. When a business expands to over 25 employees with several buildings in an A-2 zoning, this size of operation should be located in an industrial zoned area.
Tom Lucas told the Commission that all of the neighboring property owners know the Jordan’s and they know that this growing business is operating at this location. “I think the Commission should go forward and approve this application and the requests that have been made by the applicants,” he said
Adam Elliott, a resident of Gilchrist County said that he didn’t have a problem with a welding shop at this location. He explained that he is concerned when you have an expansion from 9 employees to 25, that having adequate restrooms for that many fulltime people is a concern in an A-2 zoned area.
David Cartwright, a state certified contractor asked the Commission if a Building Official comes on the property to do an inspection, does this individual also check on other buildings on this property that might not meet the current Florida State Building Codes.
Chairman Gray explained that Gilchrist County does have a Code Enforcement Department that does check-up on requests when received from time to time on buildings in Gilchrist County.
Commissioner Langford made a motion to approve SP 2019-10 and allow the 6000 square foot metal building and the increase of up to 25 full time employees be allowed at this welding business in an Agriculture A-2 land use category. Commissioner Martin gave a second in support of this motion. Chairman Gray called for a roll call vote, as Commissioners Kenrick Thomas, Sharon Langford, and Bill Martin voted yes on this motion and Commissioners Todd Gray and Marion Poitevint vote No on the motion. The Commission approved the application by a 3-2 vote.
Donna Creamer, Gilchrist County Administrative assistant asked the Commission to consider increasing the Tourism Tax from 2% to 3% to allow additional funds raised from the bed tax to be used for advertisement of Gilchrist County. The 2% tourism tax is paid by each business that has guests come and spend the night in the parks, motels, and location in the county while people are visiting this very popular nature tourism destination. In 2018, the bed tax raised an estimated $59,000. If the Tourism Tax had been at 3%, the funding would have increased to $90,000. She told the Commission that Gilchrist County was one of only 2 counties in Florida that still have the bed tax at 2%. A motion was made by Commissioner Thomas to approve the increase of the Tourism Tax to 3%. Commissioner Poitevint gave a second to the motion before the board voted unanimous in support of this tax increase.
Commissioner Langford asked the board members to consider approving a resolution against the proposed toll road from coming through Gilchrist County. She explained that Citrus and Marion counties have both passed resolutions against the proposed new toll highway coming through their counties.
Ron Hersh of Bell addressed the Commission to support the resolution being requested by Commissioner Langford. “This highway if it comes through Gilchrist County will not only change the area, but it will damage our way of life,” Hersh explained.
The Commission decided to check on the resolution approved by Citrus and Marion counties and discuss this proposal in the December 2019 meeting.
This meeting was adjourned at 5:55 p.m.