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Gilchrist approves expansion of Ellie Ray’s Resort

The Gilchrist Commission was asked to consider a Special Use Permit 2020-01 application for the expansion of Ellie Ray’s RV Resort and Lounge on the Santa Fe River in North Gilchrist County. The proposed expansion identifies four separate divisions totaling 79.63 acres to be constructed over a period of six years. An attorney representing Tom Sturgeon – TRS Holdings, LLC owner and applicant discussed each of the four proposed expansions to the current operating resort on the Santa Fe River. Each of the four expansions will add to the existing resort and when completed will feature a new club house, a new entrance store, a multi-use area for concerts and shows, a wellness center, RV expansions, new bathhouses plus a pool, a dog park, a chapel along with an expanded restaurant-lounge and the addition of tree houses for guests that want to spend time in the natural setting in a tree house. The Commission and staff discussed numerous details involving the expansion, but they agreed the RV Park improvements would be acceptable in the Gilchrist County Land Development Regulations.
Commissioner Martin made a motion to approve SUP 2020-01 and to allow TRS Holdings, LLC to go forward with the expansion of the RV Resort in Gilchrist County. Commissioner Poitevint gave a second to the motion before the board approved the application by a unanimous vote.
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The Gilchrist County Commission began their Monday, January 6th meeting as Bobby Crosby, Gilchrist County Administrator presented a fee proposal for Architectural and Engineering Services for the remodeling of the Gilchrist Chamber of Commerce office at 220 South Main Street in Trenton. Paul Stressing Associates, Inc. submitted a proposal for the architectural services, mechanical, electrical, plumbing engineering services; and printing and reproduction costs for a total of $7,300.00. The construction work discussed for this project is estimated to be $150,000 including a reasonable furnishing allocation.
A motion was made by Commissioner Thomas to approve the fee proposal of $7,300, for the Architectural and Engineering services for the remodeling of the Tax Collector’s offices in Trenton. Commissioner Poitevint gave a second to the motion before the Board approved the proposal by a 5-0 vote.
Commissioner Martin asked if a date had been set of when the Tax Collector office and staff could move into the new accommodations. Mr. Crosby explained, “We would love for this to be completed within 60 to 90 days, but more realistically it will be within the 90 day time period.”
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The Commission considered Special Use Permit 2019-06 an application by Bell Ridge Solar, LLC for owner Alliance Dairies for a solar farm to be constructed on 523 acres of A-2 land bordering County Road 232 and CR 337 in eastern Gilchrist County. The applicant is proposing to construct a 74.5 MWac solar photovoltaic solar farm with appropriate fencing and landscape buffers in this agriculture based area.
Commissioner Thomas reported that he had filed a conflict involving this application because he is an employee of one of the partners which owns the agriculture property. Mr. Thomas reported that he would not be involved in the discussion or the vote on this SUP 2019-06 application.
Craig Brashier, AICP Planning Director with CHW professional consultants asked if the Special Use Permit could be extended for a period of three years instead of the usual one year period. A staff consultant explained to the Commission that the group is communicating with Duke Energy to operate the 74.5-megawatt solar farm when it is completed.
Commissioner Gray reported that he did not see a problem with extending the term of the SUP to three years involving the applicant’s request.
Scott Tucker, a resident of Gilchrist County asked the Commission to think twice before extending the term to three years on one of these solar farm SUP applications. These solar farms are popping up all over Gilchrist County and these applicants need to work within the Gilchrist County current regulations.
A motion was made by Commissioner Martin to approve SUP 2019-06 and allow a three-year term for this permit as long as the applicant meets the current Gilchrist County Land Development Regulations. Commissioner Langford gave a second to the motion before the board approved the application by a 4-0 vote.
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Planning and Zoning Director David M Lang, Jr. reported that Gilchrist County is experiencing people buying handi-houses, pole barn packages and other types of storage facilities and having them constructed or placed on their property without having engineered approved plans from the Gilchrist County Building Department. The Building Department urges Gilchrist County residents to check with the Building Department before they purchase and have these barns constructed on their property. A permit is required from the Building Department before the building can be located on the property.
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The Gilchrist County Commission discussed approving changes to the operations, cost of service and days and hours of service to the Solid Waste Services in Gilchrist County. A motion by Commissioner Thomas was made to go forward and allow the Solid Waste to go out to bid for new waste dumpsters, trash compactors and prepare for improved solid waste service in Gilchrist County. Commissioner Poitevint gave a second to the motion before the board approved the motion by a unanimous vote. Mr. Crosby reported that it will take up to 120 days to implement several changes in the solid waste services department.

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