Board of County Commissioners
Gadsden County, Florida
& MEETING NOTES
Regular Public Meeting
August 21, 2012
Present: Sherrie Taylor, District 5, Chair
Gene Morgan, District 3, Vice - Chair
Eugene Lamb, District 1
Doug Croley, District 2
Brenda Holt, District 4
Nicholas Thomas, Clerk of Courts
Debra Minnis, County Attorney
Arthur Lawson, Interim County Administrator
Invocation, Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call
Pledge of Allegiance
Roll Call (Beryl Wood, Deputy Clerk)
Amendments and Approval of Agenda
Amend – Auburn Ford for another CDBG Application – General Business 18a
Motion: Lamb/Holt 5-0
Awards, Presentations and Appearances
Clerk of Courts
1. Presentation of County Finance and County Clerk Issues
(Nicholas Thomas, Clerk of the Courts) – No report
Consent: Item 8 pulled: Motion: Lamb/ Croley 5-0
2. Approval of Minutes – March 20, 2012 – Special Meeting/Workshop
3. Ratification of Approval to Pay County Bills
4. Adoption of Resolution Number 2012-022, Designating a Portion of U.S. Highway
90/State Road 10/East Jefferson Street between State Road 12/State Road 65/Madison Street and County 159 in Gadsden County to be Designated as “Alfred Lawson, Jr., Highway”
(Representative Alan B. Williams, District 8)
5. Establish New Bank Account for Gadsden EMS Medicare Electronic Payments
(Connie McLendon, Finance Director)
6. Approval of the State Housing Initiative Partnership (SHIP) Annual Report and
Authorization for the BOCC Chairperson to Execute
(Phyllis Moore, SHIP Administrator/ Clyde Collins, Building Official)
7. Approval of Mosquito Control Agreement with Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Services (DACS) and Annual Certified Budget
(Charles Chapman, Public Works Director)
8. Approval to Accept the Fiscal Year 2012 Third Quarter Report
(Jeff Price, Senior Management and Budget Analyst) – Item pulled by Commissioner Morgan
He asked was the report available for public viewing on the County Website.
Mr. Chapman replied it was, but not the updated one.
Mr. Lawson added it would be addressed.
Motion: Morgan/Lamb 5-0
9. Fiscal Year 2012-2013 EMS County Award Grant Funds
(Tommy Baker, EMS Director)
10. Approval to Declare Three Ambulances as Surplus Equipment and Donate to Other
(Tommy Baker, EMS Director)
11. Write-Off of EMS Accounts
(Tommy Baker, EMS Director)
Items Pulled for Discussion – Item 8
Citizens Requesting to be Heard on Non-Agenda Items (3 minute limit) - None
Public Hearings - None
12. Request for Funding of Florida Riparian County Stakeholder Coalition and Approval of
Agreement (Elmon Lee Garner, City Manager, Chattahoochee, Florida)
Mr. Lee Garner greeted the Board on the request for funding of Florida Riparian County Stakeholder Coalition and Approval of Agreement. The FRCSC (Florida Riparian County Stakeholder Coalition) was formed in 2007 to represent the interest of the six (6) counties bordering the Apalachicola River in Florida. He yielded to Dave McClain.
Mr. McClain addressed the Board requesting funding in the amount of $5,000 and approval of the agreement would allow the coalition to continue the fight to insure adequate water supply for all those impacted by the possible loss of water from the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers.
Discussion followed by the Board:
Commissioner Holt asked about the Counties that were to be included. Any counties north of here buying into program.
Mr. McClain commented it was a total of 6 counties with Gadsden County. He replied there would be Georgia counties included. He added Eastern Water Law is under federal law.
Commissioner Morgan stated this group has played a major in protecting one of our most precious resources. He spoke in support of the group. He asked about the economy as it relates to water supply.
Mr. McClain commented they are impacted by both the economy and the drought.
Commissioner Croley thanked them both for their work. He asked about the River Keepers. He asked about the upcoming budget and asked was it possible to come out of this budget.
Mr. McClain stated they are apart and explained. He said the request is for upcoming budget.
Chair Taylor asked about Water Management.
Mr. McClain stated the Florida Water Management they have no jurisdiction in Georgia, we take our needs beyond State boundaries. He said they have an great working relationship.
Budgeting line item – 5 counties; Gadsden County is 6 county.
Taylor – Is it already nailed down in the other 5 counties.
McClain – Franklin, Liberty, Jackson commitments
Taylor – Interlocal Agreement we can go ahead.. And look at funding in upcoming budget year and workshops.
Motion: Holt/Morgan 5-0 (Interlocal Agreement)
13. Resolution to Approve the Gadsden County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and
(Anthony Matheny, Planning and Community Development Director)
Mr. Matheny gave update on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.
Mr. Jon Sewell walked through process of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and Design Guidelines. He noted it involved at lot of public participation.
Statement of Issue:
The Gadsden County BOCC is requested to review and adopt the proposed Countywide Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. The objective of the master plan, from a planning and economic standpoint, is to identify and prioritize the location of pathways as an optional mode of transportation. A series of public workshops were held receiving favorable feedback and support on January 12, January 23, February 23, and May 15. 2012. The basis of the Plan enhances
· walkability within the county; expands cycling opportunities; provides better connectivity and mobility for both cyclists and pedestrians; and promotes economic opportunity through bicycle, pedestrian, and blueway facilities.
On May 27, 2009, Gadsden County submitted an application for Transportation Enhancement Funding to the Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency (CRTPA). The Federal Transportation Act, known as SAFTEA-LU, contained funding for projects to strengthen cultural, aesthetic and environmental value of an existing transportation system. As a result, the County was awarded $90,000 in funding for the development of a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (herein referred to as the Plan).
A request for proposal was circulated in the county's three local newspapers in June 2011 for consultant services to develop the Plan. Six bid proposals were received. Planning Consultants Kimley-Horn were selected through an open and competitive bid process. The Plan has been in preparation since August 201 I and vetted through a citizen participation process. If adopted, its policies, goals, objectives, and projects will be incorporated into the County's Transportation Element of the Gadsden County Comprehensive Plan, and affords the County an opportunity to better reflect its mission of multi-modalism, recreation, and eco-tourism.
The Plan is submitted in two parts: a Facilities Master Plan and Design Guidelines. The facilities master plan contains the urban planning methodology; master plan goals and objectives; and existing roadway and cycling conditions. Strategies within the facilities master plan include: (1) new cycling routes, (2) safe routes to school (such as marked cross walks and pedestrian activated signals); and (3) sidewalks connecting pedestrians to transit stops, parks, and civic buildings. Way finding signage for users to navigate the system would connect users of the system from one amenity to the other.
A total of six countywide bike routes are proposed. The first route is proposed to extend 10 miles along SR-12, the Florida Arts Bicycle Trail, from Havana to Quincy with trailhead facilities, auto parking lots, plaza, kiosk, and bike parking facilities in both cities. The Havana to Quincy route is the most feasible for topography and utility reasons, but also because the route connects the Gadsden Arts Center to Eugene Lamb, Jr. Park. In addition, it has the greatest probability of economic impact between these two activity and commercial centers.
The design guidelines reference three sources, the Manual of Uniform Minimum Standards for Design, Construction and Maintenance for Streets and Highways; the FDOT Plan Preparation Manual; and the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. These guidelines provide specifications for development of trail head facilities, blueway launch pads, signage, signals, surfaces, sidewalks, alternative crossings, bike lanes and transit stops. The guidelines combine recommendations from the varied references shown above best suited for facilities in Gadsden County.
The development of the master plan was paid for entirely through a $90,000 grant awarded by the Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency. All grant work was completed by June 30,
2012. Project estimates for routes and trailhead facilities are included within the Plan, as well as funding strategies.
Funding Strategies: CRTPA, Office of Greenways and Trails- Recreational Trails Program; Small Cities Community Development Block Grant Program; Florida Community Trust’s Florida Forever Grant Program; FDOT Enhancements; Visit Florida Grants; US Department of Agriculture Grants and Loan Program; Bikes Belong Coalition Grant Program; Florida Recreation and Development Assistance Grant Program; Bike Florida Mini-Grants; Safe Routes to Schools; Land and Water Conservation; Florida Boating Improvements Program.
Discussion by the Board:
Commissioner Holt discussed Little River to Lake Talquin.
Mr. Sewell stated it was not included, but he could add and stated that was a great suggestion.
Morgan – Very informative presentation. He stated that Chattahoochee has been recognized Nationally for the nature trail and maybe paving the trail. Signage recommendation, He said TDC has invested dollars to brand Gadsden County. He suggested the touchscreen kiosk in the 6 areas of the County.
Sewell – he said it was something feasible. He said using TDC dollars can be useable.
Croley – He said they needed network to tie all municipalities together. He commented it is a wonderful plan.
Lamb – Great Plan, needed in Gadsden County.
Taylor – Point of record, has been discussed in TDC. One area of concerns, CRTPA - all Commissioners need to come to the table, all districts should be represented.
Motion: Approve resolution for design Croley/Holt 5-0 for Option 1.
14. Request Approval to Award the Bid to Replace the Chiller at the Capital Regional
Medical Center Gadsden Campus
(Clyde Collins, Building Official)
Motion: Morgan/Croley – Option 1: 5-0
Statement of lssue:
This agenda item seeks Board approval to award the bid to replace the chiller at the
Capital Regional Medical Center Gadsden Campus.
The new chiller will replace the original chiller which was installed in the mid SO's. Over the past few years, the Maintenance Department has repaired problems with the compressor failing and fan coils leading. These repairs have been performed several times by our staff as well as outside mechanical contractors. Given these circumstances, it is just a matter of time before the chiller stops working. The Gadsden Campus operates twenty four (24) hours seven (7) days a week; therefore, it is deemed necessary to replace the chiller as soon as possible.
Staff solicited sealed bids from qualified providers for the chiller replacement project. The bid tabulation form is attached. Ed Locke, Advanced Engineering Concepts, prepared the specifications for this project and upon review of the bids, recommends Miller's Heating and Air. Copy of Advanced Engineering Concepts letter attached.
Gadsden County will pay for the chiller replacement at a cost of$89,700 plus $20,000 for the optional heat reclaim capability.
15. Authorization to Use Loan and Insurance Proceeds for Capital Projects
(Tommy Baker, EMS Director)
Statement of Issue:
This agenda item requests auth
Motion for Option 1: Croley/Morgan 5-0
Taylor – Is there anything else we need to do.
Clerk- We don’t have any problem from Clerk’s Office.
16. Approval to Award Bid Number 12-10 for Engineering Services for the CDBG Disaster Recovery Enhancement Fund and Authorize the BOCC Chairperson to Execute the Contract
(Phyllis Moore, SHIP Administrator/ Clyde Collins, Building Official)
Motion: Morgan/Lamb – Option 1: 5-0 (approved)
17. Approval of Resolution Number 2012-023 and Budget Amendment Number 120081 to
Pay Medicaid Backlog
(Arthur Lawson, Interim County Administrator)
Motion to pay Medicaid Backlog, $134,501.74 coming from Reserves
Taylor – Budget hearing does this require an additional public hearing.
Clerk - No
18. National Solar Update No additional updates, still moving forward with application and potential sites .
(Deborah Minnis, County Attorney/David Weiss, Assistant County Attorney)
18 a.) 4th CDBG Grant Application
Auburn Ford discussed the CDBG, they were unaware they required another public hearing. He said they are in new grant cycle, do public hearings. Whole process must be done again.
Holt – This is the 4th and final.
Motion: Holt/Lamb for approval. 3-2 pass(Morgan/Croley opposed)
Croley – where is background information. We need documentation.
19. Update on Board Requests
(Arthur Lawson, Interim County Administrator) - none
Croley -Status on Jail Lock Repair, Lighting
Lawson -Mr. Collins – Clemmons, Ruthford should be prepared to go out. He said both are moving.
20. Update on Various Legal Issues - none
(Deborah Minnis, County Attorney)
Discussion Items by Commissioners
21. Commissioner Lamb, District 1 - School have them implement Civics back into school
Commissioner Croley, District 2 - CRTPA – Bids on Quincy Bypass is on schedule
and construction may start as early as in the fall.
Commissioner Holt, District 4 - Elections – try to get along; items need to be researched
Commissioner Morgan, Vice – Chairman, District 3 - Public TDC Meeting encouraged
public to come.
Commissioner Taylor, Chair, District 5 In TDC Kiosk is moving forward; Web design
is being developed to have more hits. Road
Adoption Program – private dirt roads into
the County. She said she would like to have
this agenda in the next month are 2. She
noted policy would be ready to move. She
asked for research. She spoke of the citizens in the County who live on those private roads and give every citizen consideration. She asked to look at procedural process.
Stripping at Senior Citizen Parking Lot
Interlocal Local Agreement(Riparian) – there was nothing in agreement that commented us to funding.
Attorney – Just indicated support.
Motion to Adjourn @10:45pm
Receipt and File
a. For the Record: Letter from the Gadsden County Health Department Regarding the
Activities and Expenditures Report/October 1, 2011-June 30, 2012
b. For the Record: Letter from Quincy-Gadsden Airport Authority Regarding Fiscal Year
Commissioner Lamb, District 1 – County Concerns
- August 23, 2012, Budget Workshop, 4:00 p.m.
- September 4, 2012, Regular Meeting, 6:00 p.m.
- September 5, 2012, 1st Budget Hearing, 6:00 p.m.
- September 18, 2012, Final Budget Hearing/Regular Meeting, 6:00 p.m.
AT A SPECIAL MEETING/WORKSHOP HELD IN AND FOR GADSDEN COUNTY, FLORIDA ON MARCH 20, 2012 AT 1:30 P.M.,THE FOLLOWING PROCEEDINGS WAS HAD, VIZ.
PRESENT: Sherrie Taylor, Chair, District 5
Gene Morgan, Vice-Chair, District 3
Doug Croley, District 2
Brenda Holt, District 4
David Weiss, Deputy County Attorney
Arthur Lawson, Interim County Administrator
Beryl Wood, Deputy Clerk
ABSENT: Eugene Lamb, District 1
Call to Order
Chair Taylor called the meeting to order at 1:30 p.m. announcing that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the contents on the proposed agreement with National Solar. She then asked all parties present to silence their cell phones for the duration of the meeting.
The meeting was then turned over to Arthur Lawson, Interim County Administrator who then turned it over to David Weiss, Deputy County Attorney.
Mr. Weiss introduced the agreement, which was proposed by National Solar in November, 2011 and a workshop was held in December at which time some good dialogue ensued and some modifications were made as a result. He reported that he and Ms. Minnis had examined the agreement primarily to
substantiate that it meets with all statutory requirements. He then requested that the county propose a term limit for the ad valorem tax reduction period, which they can take back to National Solar to negotiate. He informed the board that whatever changes they propose to the agreement will have to be brought back to the board at a public hearing for adoption after they meet with them and apprise them of the proposed changes that result from th1s meetmg.
Chair Taylor asked for community input prior to board discussion.
Update from Chamber of Commerce
David Gardner, Executive Director of the Gadsden County Chamber of Commerce, addressed the board. He reported the following:
"As far as National Solar to date, they have executed agreements in Liberty County and Hardee County much like the one proposed in Gadsden. They have under contract one piece of property at the corner of 267 and Highway 20, which is known as the Bradwell Tract. They are in the process of doing soil tests and surveys as well as transmission studies to determine how the load that transmission line that runs adjacent to that property and how it can handle that transmission load.
That is the quick version of where we are. They have been in touch with Mr. VanLandingham regarding the application for tax abatement. I don't know the exact status of that to date, but I know that they are in process. I think everything is moving along. I certainly appreciate the diligence and hard work that this board has given. You know, it is never as fast as we all want it, but I think it is moving ahead on
their end and on our end. The result is going to be very much a success. " Questions raised by the board to Mr. Gardner:
I just wanted to ask a question. You mentioned Hardee County, David, and you mentioned that this
same agreement is what they are looking at as well. Have any of those two counties, to you knowledge, approved this agreement?
Yes, to my knowledge, both counties have executed their agreements.
Do we have a copy of the agreements they have executed?
I may have copies. I will have to check and see. If not,I can make sure that they are sent and they are public record.
Madam Chair, I would recommend for the record that we try to obtain copies from those two respective counties of their agreements so that the attorney and the county administrator's office clearly understood what others are doing so that we can evaluate the pros and cons and add it to our information.
I will be more than happy to send it to the county manager and the attorney. I should be able to do that no later than tomorrow if, for some reason, I don't have a fully executed copy.
But, to your knowledge, to this point in time without us seeing it, you are representing that this agreement, as written by their attorneys, was adopted by those respective counties?
I have seen the executed Hardee County Agreement. I was at the Liberty County Commission meeting when they approved their agreement.
But it is the same agreement? That is what I am asking.
------ ---------- - ----------
There may be a little bit of tweaking. So -Is it the exact same agreement? I would not want to represent that it is the exact same. There could be some verbiage that has been changed. I can give you copies.
O.K. That is fine. I am just trying to make sure that I am starting on the same basis as with everybody else, the other counties, in other words.
Has National Solar or any of its key principals, to your knowledge, David, ever actually constructed a solar farm?
Principals are Hensel Phelps, which is a major partner in National Solar,
They are the construction company?
They are also a financial partner,an operating partner and I would consider National Solar as basically (as James Scrivener says) a bundler. They are putting all the different pieces together. There are major entities in the financial world involved in this. I would rather that Mr. Scrivener come and address the group as to all the particulars, which I think will be forthcoming in the near future. I will ask them to do that.
That will suffice. Thank you.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
David,thanks for coming and being here. I know that as we move through here, there may be some questions from concerned citizen groups and individuals, so, thanks for coming. I know you are
extreme! bus .
I agree with the question that Commissioner Croley was asking and I was aware that the other counties had adopted those agreements. I know that you can't stand here and say that these are the exact same agreements,however, was there anything that you are aware of that was a "standout?" In other words, I know there may be some minor differences, but was there anything that is of major concern or
something completely different for Liberty County or Hardee County that would stand out as completely different from this agreement that we are looking at?
I think all the fundamentals and basic terms are the same.
There may be concerns as we move through today's workshop where you might be able to address Say, "this came up over there."
There are a couple of "somethings" that did come up.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Yes. Mine will come after the citizens input. That will work out better.
Thank you again. Please remain close by.
I will be close by.
I want to thank the Property Appraise for being here and we will hear from you with regards to your note that is on this application. You did give us some heartburn at our last meeting as to moving through its process. We know how important it is as it is to come up with an agreement between the bodies. So, be prepared in just a few, O.K?
Now, I do see two community people, actually three or four community members. Do either of you want to speak at this time? I want to give preference to you in how you want to go forward. We prefer to have input from the community at this time and let your thoughts be our basis. That is how it is supposed to be. So, we will yield to the lady. Come on up, young lady. Give us your full name and your current address.
My name is Marion Laslie, 5 Dante Court, Quincy, FL.
I actually have a hand out for each one of you all. I went through the contract, the revised contract, and noted all of my concerns and things that I see as problems for the county. I think that you need to remember that whatever agreement you sign is going to be here for a while and you guys are not going to be the ones still here in the end, so we need to make sure that the county is protected. So, if I can just hand out my- it is all done by pages and by sections. I just have a little reference as to what my concerns are with the language. As you go through it, you can address my concerns.
Alright. Are there any other citizens that wish to come before us and speak at this time?
My name is Michael Dorian. I live at 145 Alligator Run.
One thing,well, there are several things that I am concerned about. Probably the first one is toward the end of the economic agreement it says that anything that we say in meetings, any oral agreement that we make, any emails, they are negated by the document itself. So, let's just make sure that everything we want is in the written agreement. We haven't talked about setbacks; we haven't talked about vegetation cover; we haven't talked about drainage. While in the meetings, we did talk about imminent domain and all of that has to go into the written contract. Right now, the way I read the contract, it is kind of one-sided.
Ms. Taylor,may I ask Mr. Gardner a question?
David, you said that there were some other counties have accepted this. They didn't go into the fact about setbacks?
Those type issues, Mike,are covered in the application for the specific property and the Planning and Zoning surrounding each individual parcel. But, I think that National Solar, if it is not in the contract, they don't have a problem with putting in appropriate setbacks, etc.
All that stuff, when we met before, the things we made agreements about, did they could go into here?
Yes. But, depending on the situation, it could be much greater that what the exact footprint that they have to operate with. Those setbacks and boundaries and covers could be greater. But, establishing some minimum setback,I know we did talk about it, but I don't think the other counties put that in. I
will have to check. I think it is covered in the Land Code. I will defer to Anthony on that.
Hold on just a second. (Inaudible) unless there is some rule change. You were going to say something.
I appreciate that. I think maybe David or Michael, Mr. Dorian, a h. Our attorney may have some input here,but it was my understanding that this is the "economic development agreement." We want to list out, obviously, what we expect from either party. But, when it comes to land use and those type things, setbacks, drainage and those types of things, unless I misunderstood, they are going to have to meet those. That is going to have to be approved through the normal process anyway regardless of what is in here. I don't know that it needs to be included in the actual "economic development" agreement. I don't know that to be the case. The attorney may have some input on that.
Fine. Let's get some input from the attorney.
I think that is right on, Commissioner Morgan, but I will tell you what I actually did. Just because I knew and I was preparing for this meeting today, I went back through my notes from previous workshops and what not and I made a few changes. Not substantial. I did not disseminate this document because it was yesterday and I didn't want to confuse things. But, I made a couple of changes and I did specify under Section 4.1where "Permitting, Inspections, and Zoning" that they do agree to comply with all applicable zoning and Comprehensive Plan statutory requirements because that was one thing that was one thing that came from that workshop and they are happy to do that. All they want is us to agree to
process applications in a timely fashion. They are going to comply with whatever Growth Management sets forth and they are going to comply with all the county's regulations regarding the site development. That is going to be on a site specific basis. This agreement is going to cover however many sites they ultimately end up developing. While you could probably establish a minimum setback for any site, I
think that Growth Management would say that it is going to depend on the specific site as to what
appropriate setback would be and those types of things. That is just the way it is.
Now, that opens the question, "If we are not going to have set regulations, will the Citizens Bill of Rights kick in?" So, for each of the 20 farms, we will go through a Citizens Bill of Rights process?
Yes. And that was another thing that I did add in here. I specified the Comprehensive Plan,the Land Development Code, and the Planning Bill of Rights, any applicable statutes, - I mean, I wanted to cover all our bases. But,the answer is "Yes." If the Citizens' Bill of Rights is in play, then, yes. They are not avoiding any of our normal county requirements.
O.K. But, now this solar farm is not your normal development. While I think a lot of the questions, ah, I have met with David and I think a lot of the questions have been answered, but, one of the major things that I am worried about is that conduit going from the solar farm to the grid. They are going to carry a lot of electricity. I just want to be sure that we have things written about imminent domain and that a neighborhood is not going to suddenly see high-powered transmission lines coming through the middle of their neighborhood. In this process that we are doing, we can discuss more than just what is in here. We can discuss setbacks.
I think the answer is there is not necessarily a limit to what can be addressed in this agreement. But, it is entitled "Economic Development Agreement." If you start trying to expand it to address every potential issue that doesn't relate to economic development, you are changing the scope of the agreement to some extent. I will defer because, like I said, there is no limit to what can be addressed. think that Growth Management Director would like to speak to this if we can.
The process in which each of these farms will have to be approved will require a Citizens' Bill of Rights hearing at the property, on the property. It will have to be duly noticed and advertised. It is a special exception, a utility use, anywhere in the county on any land use district.
A special exception means that it has to go through the Planning Commission public hearing;it has to come to this board for a public hearing. As with any special exception, you can deny it for whatever reason you decide that you want to deny it. If you don't like it when it comes through the process, you can deny.
Now, they will have to submit a detailed site plan with a storm water analysis and all the other things that the gentleman referred to will be covered at that time for each site. If there is something like the transmission lines come up and you don't think that is a good idea and want it removed- that is within your power to make those changes or require those changes at that time. So,all of these items will be covered as each farm comes up for review and permitting.
May I ask a question?
I want to step back a minute. Whenever this idea was first brought to us,and I thought as a group we generally presented that the solar farms track with some large scale agricultural land, Silva culture specifically. The AG 3 and 4 tracts that we see on the south end of the county and on some possibly on the north side. If there were transmission lines,it might fit. But those tracts we were going to make available some type of zoning opportunity on those tracts to fit with this "newer technology" and that by doing that, we would be able to address any of these concerns in the agreement,I mean that is what I recall. I might be wrong about that. We were going to be a little bit more specific.
Now, obviously, if you got off of those Silva culture tracts and started getting into the more AG 1or Ag 2 or into the rural residential areas, which might trigger a whole different consideration. But, I thought that this would put us in a competitive position with Liberty County, Hardee County or any of the other rural counties that were looking at this. Now,it sounds like we are back to whatever happens on AG 3
or AG4 land is now going to be treated with no different process that what we were using for the more densely zoned areas. Do I understand that is what you are talking about doing now?
Commissioner, what happened was and hopefully the administrator will recall like I did, when we brought the item about how to expedite the process or make it a use by right in certain land use districts, that it didn't get any further because there were several commissioners who voiced their concern at the time that they did not want to give up the public hearing approval and the oversight process and they wanted to be able to deny the project in any land use district. So, we didn't go any further with it. Right now, it is listed in our Code and in our Comp Plan as a utility use,which requires a special exception approval in any land use district. In fact, one of the problems that goes back to what Chairman Taylor said this morning, we need to have a lot of work on our Comprehensive Plan and Land
Development Code because sometimes they contradict themselves. I think in the Comprehensive Plan it says that Utilities Uses are allowed by special exception in any land use district. Then when you go to the LaRd Development Code,it says in AG districts. So, for really practical purposes on where they
would put the farms, they would beAG districts, most likely in AG 2 and 3 and probably 3 in overwhelming amount of times if not all of the time, they would be in AG3 districts. That is 1house per
20 acres. So, I think that we didn't go any further on that, Mr. Administrator, the way I remember it.
There was some disagreement on giving up control and having it done as an internal,by right, for lack of a better phrase, internal review. Ya'll wanted the final decision of whether to deny or approve.
Well, Mr. Matheny, I appreciate that point, because like you, I recall some of that discussion. I was just referencing that historically that is originally how this came up. Three and four AG land on the Silva culture tracts. But,now we are getting here in this agreement, Mr. Attorney, this is where I am concerned. I had wanted to see this be reasonable smooth for National Solar to make its plans without there being a lot of hardship placed on them moving the technology forward and keeping it away from the more populated areas and the productive agricultural areas. But, when I read in here when you are talking about the expediting processes and all -14 days. Often times this gives the impression that this
is a done deal if they do make an application. I understand that you are shaking your head saying, "No,
it is not," but just the terminology would imply or one could infer that if they came and asked for a solar farm on AG 2 of AG 3 land somewhere in the northern end o of the county or even closer to the more populated areas, that they would automatically get it. I think that is what the concern was with the commissioners at the time. How do you respond to that?
Well, that is actually one of the sections that I referred to for that 4:1that I had revised fairly substantially because I agree with you that it does kind of give that impression that they are going to be fast tracked essentially, which is not what I think was the result and what everybody understood including National Solar. I don't think anybody understood that to necessarily be the result. I think what they wanted was and what my understanding of what the board wanted and wants or wanted at least, and you all can tell me if that is what you still want, but was all applicable regulations and rules were going to continue to apply. They just wanted an assurance that their applications were going to be processed as quickly as possible under the current rules and regulations. That is why I took out "14
days following submission." You know. that doesn't mean anything. Basically it said, "If possible or
provided that everything is compliant." Frankly, I just struck that because I agree with you. I think it gives the wrong impression at least as far as the way that this reads and my understanding of what everybody wants.
Now, I don't think, I think that in order to change some of this, you could go back and say, "Well, yeah, within 14 days, under certain circumstances," but there are some things that you can't change. You have statutory notice requirements with regard to public hearings for land use amendments and so on and so forth. Not everything is within our control. But, there are things that are within our control, but as Anthony just said, if you are sticking with the normal process under the Land Development Code and
the Comprehensive Plan, you either have to say, "We are going with that process," or "We are not." My understanding is that we are in which everything is applicable. We can expedite it and move it along as quickly as possible and make sure that it doesn't sit in a stack on the corner,but, it is
Well this is why I was asking what others had done. I surely don't mean this in any disrespect to our neighboring county, but I keep telling people, "Liberty County and what they do is not necessarily a model to go by." I am just trying to say to you that this is something that we need to consider because 1 want to make it clear and I think everybody in here is in agreement with this, we certainly want to put out a good welcome and cooperative effort and sincere and straight forward for Nation Solar. But, we just can't ignore the public duties to treat them in an accountable fashion, especially since they were asking for some other things. So, how to do that, I don't know and I am depending on you.
We are still at this phase of citizen input, so let's stay with that and then commissioners will then have its dialogue. But, right now,we need to stay focused as we move through the process.
I am getting my questions answered as you all discuss. One thing that I wanted to ask about- about the
14 days is- Could someone else come in and sue us and say, "Hey, I was first in line and you are letting these folks go past us." That is one of my questions. That is just one.
Let me get back to my little list here and try to push through it. As I said in my introduction, I am really pro solar energy. I have 60 hours toward my solar energy certification. I bleed photons. I really would like to see this thing happen here in Gadsden County. I think it would bring a lot of money. I think it would be good for a lot of people. The other side,though,is that I am a tax payer. Everywhere in this thing it says, "the county will pay the fees, the county will reimburse," you would put in there,"the tax payers will reimburse. The Taxpayers." You know, this thing- ---1 am on a fixed income. I am retired. I'll never really be retired because I've got some fix-up homes and I will be doing manual labor the rest of my life. I know that a lot of people are going to make a bunch of money on this thing,but, I am
looking at taxpayers and wonder what the taxpayers are going to end up with? That is both sides. That
is both sides.
Let me get to one specific concern that I have. That is assignment. I don't understand it. Maybe ya'll can help me. Let me find assignment here. It is number 10. It says "Assignment: The owner shall have the right to assign this agreement in whole or in part including any applicable county incentives or state
incentives as follows:" then it has an A and B. Under the "A" it says, "to another solar farm." Then
under "B" it says, "to REIT," a real estate investment trust. And I don't understand what that is, but maybe David could answer this question. Will this only be for Solar Farms or can they sell this to
another AG 3 applicant? Could they sell the incentives to a hog farm or a tomato farm? They want wells
on all their properties. Could we see water bottling plants? I don't understand "B." Is there any way that we could make "B" a little bit clearer in that the only business that is going to be on these 20 properties will be only solar farms? I don't even know what a REIT is. I can't see us- why would we be
giving other people these incentives when it is meant for solar farms?
We are taking your comments and you are saying some of the same things that we find on Ms. Laslie's paperwork. We are going to address it, but right now we are taking public input. Then we are going to address them once the public input is completed. So, you won't get a response now, sir. Just voice your opinions,then we will address them as we go along.
O.K. Let me go through them.
We are waiting.
O.K. I already talked about the 14 days. I have talked about the fact that it says county fees will not exceed $10,000 and then there is another place that talks about $30,000. I have already talked about the fact that any time you say county fees, you could say tax payer fees. I am concerned about us being co-defendants in law suits. If this board remembers, the last attorneys we had almost broke us. I think that the attorneys we have now have been very reasonable. But, this thing is talking about forever. It says that "even if this agreement expires, the co-ownership of any lawsuits keeps going and going. I don't know. I may not be understanding the legalese,but I am wondering if the county could be getting involved in law suits that happen on this thing. I am pro solar. The abatements don't bother me. I think there are a lot of other counties and the State of California that give it all kinds of incentives. They don't bother me as much as this thing about lawsuits.
Let me see. A lot of this stuff,you have already answered. I guess the last thing that I want to say is imminent domain would be addressed and that imminent domain would be part of the contract. Progress Energy would not be able to come in and put in a large power line through a neighborhood.
That sums up my concerns and I appreciate you all listening and I want to say once again that I would like to see this thing happen and I know that a lot of other counties and states have given a lot of incentives to have solar here. I think that Solar is the future and I want to see these folks come here. But,I don't want to see the tax payers totally take all the responsibility.
Are there any other public comments on this particular item?
Pam Harrison Tribue, 628 South g'" St., Quincy, FL
My position here today is two-fold. I am here first as a mom. I have a 19 year old that enjoyed the public schools of Gadsden County. I have nieces and nephews and a lot of relatives that live here and I am looking forward to their future. I understand that a part of that is creating a school system that we can proud of and I am glad that we are on the mend and things are going really well. I do recognize the impact that the solar farms and other entities coming to the county will have a positive impact on our school system and our overall county.
The other part of my position here is as the program director for the Small Business Service Center. What we do all day every day is encourage businesses to either stay and grow and encourage people to move to this area. Small Businesses can go from one employee to 500. That is the technical name for a
small business. I am excited about the possibilities or the doors that the solar farms will open for Gadsden County. I definitely support them coming here. I am excited about the future and I trust that you all will make a decision that is best for all our Gadsden County citizens.
Are there any other citizens that wish to have input?
There being none, the next step will be for us to look at this agreement and see if we can move through it expeditiously, but still with quality.
I don't want to go by item by item. I do appreciate some of the ideas that Ms. Laslie and Mr. Dorian
have outlined as well as Ms. Tribue. I am going to lead with some of their ideas,but as always, I will lend to my colleagues to go first. If we can be a bit more pointed as to what changes we would like to see, and of course,you are taking notes, sir as well as the manager. The Clerk is recording also. So, let's be pointed with our suggestions.
Mr. Vanlandingham, Let me ask you one quick question please just as to where we are with the application. Is that moving along as well as it can be expected?
Property Appraiser Clay Vanlandingham:
Yes, ma'am. I spoke with
Would you mind coming to the podium so we can record your response?
Yes, ma'am. I corresponded with Mr. Eric Williams, the vice-president, last week on one or two issues and before then. He said he would be getting that final application to me, like I said to you all the last time, he turned in a, I don't want to call it a "Make Believe," but, I can't remember what I called it. But,
it was a sample that he turned in with some estimates on it. Some numbers in some places -I had some
questions about some of those numbers. I questioned him about those numbers and he gave me answers that I will bring up with the board when we get into the final days me approving the application and having all of my questions answered.
So, we are moving along simultaneously with the application and the agreement and whatever else the staff needs to get done so that we can get through this with the attorney?
Alright. Thank you for those comments.
Commissioners, Mr. Attorney, are you ready to proceed? Is there anything additional that you need to add to what has been said by our constituents? Or are we just ready to get input from commissioners?
I think we are ready for your input. I will let you know that I have been in touch with National Solar's counsel as recently as I spoke with him on last Thursday or Friday of last week. He is aware that we are having this workshop. He actually inquired as to whether he or any of their representatives should come. I left it to his discretion. I told him what this meeting pertained to and said, "You certainly will get the results of this meeting through me and through our negotiations. If you would like to be there for first hand or your client, you are welcome. I think they decided they didn't necessarily need to be here for this. I think in the future, if we ever want them to be present to answer questions or anything in the future, they are happy to do that. So, you just need to communicate that with me and I will communicate that with their counsel.
Alright. I appreciate that.
Just a quick question for Mr. Weiss. Thank you for being here. We appreciate it. You had referred to the fact that yesterday you had made a few minor changes to the agreement. That is not the copy that we are looking at. Is there anything that you can mention now before we move forward that might help guide us?
While he is looking at that, Madam Chair,will there be a reason in the future where we would not want to have the attorneys from National Solar at all of these meetings?
I think it was more prudent that we have this meeting with just ourselves as opposed to having them here. This gives us a chance to catch up with the dirty laundry and I don't want them to leave here thinking that is the case. I think this meeting here is going to be that "down and dirty town meeting." say that for lack of another word. I don't want them to be here getting the impression that this is going to be monumental task. We just need to work through the fundamentals. That is all we are trying to do today.
I agree with that. I am referring to as we move forward. You know, we are going to be getting into crunch time and if they could be here to quickly address something,it may save us time.
It is just this meeting here where we are trying to make sure of getting down to the best single finished product that we can. Let's sit down here this afternoon with our attorney this afternoon and be done with it. And you are absolutely right,commissioner, in that we should now have them in to following. I
thought of the same thing. After we give you our product from today, and you go over it and insert the changes if there are going to be changes, then let's have a joint meeting. I am on board with that.
Now, you were going to mention some of the things that you have already addressed. Weiss:
On Section 3.3- Employment and job creation. I modified this just to comply with the statutory
requirement that they create a minimum of 10 or more new jobs. I didn't change a ton other than that. I was not specified in 3.3 and I wanted to make sure that was specific and complied with the statutory requirements.
3.4 Reporting Requirements- I made it clear that they have to submit the form to the Property Appraiser as required by Statutes,which is the form that the Property Appraiser just spoke about. Also, I added some requirements in terms of reporting requirements that are statutory requirements at the beginning of the application process. To me, it is probably desirable to have them continue to annually report to make sure they are in compliance with all the statutory conditions and continue to have an annual reporting requirement, which they do. That is in 3.4. They proposed that, but I made some of the requirement specific to the statutory requirements.
Excuse me, where did you make that change?
You don't have that copy.
I am sorry, when I was going through yesterday,because it was yesterday when I was going through it and just making preparation for this meeting,I wanted to make sure that I was fresh and had all my notes in front of me. So, what I did was I went through and for my purposes, it was easier to do it that way that it was to make notes and reference.
Well, when you make that adjustment, make sure that you include not only National Solar, but all of their special entities that they create and all of the real estate investment trusts and any and all associated subsidiaries any way possible. That is going to be a lot left out if you just interject National Solar.
Yeah, and I think that is the change that I basically made. Yes, exactly. I think the way that they define
"Owner" , but yes, I will make sure that that everyone is required to report. Absolutely.
We already touched on 4.1. I just changed that to make sure that it was very specific that they would comply with all county and state regulations with regard to land development. The language is more specific than that. But, I thought that we had all kind of decided on.
One thing that I wanted to note on 4.2,which I didn't make as a change,but we are agreeing to here is agreeing to administratively initiate and expeditiously process any required changes to the Comp Plan. If it is an administrative change, then they don't pay any fees. I know that is a big part of what they are trying to get around- paying any fees. Now, there is that $10,000 cap in 4.3. Now, that will be in addition to that $10,000 cap. They also have an administrative processing of the comp plan change. just wanted to note that. It is not a huge deal, it is what it is.
Well, may I ask you a question on that one?
Construction and permitting- if I am reading this right, should not exceed $10,000. You are saying that this only applies to the construction and permit fees that are related to the inspection of the facilities that are being built and things of that nature.
Yes. I guess,depending on how you want it. I think that is the way that I would construe that.
Well, don't you think you need to make that clear in the agreement? Either it is or it isn't.
You mean it is to the exclusion of
I am just trying to say that it looks ambiguous. If we could have a more clear understanding -either it does or it doesn't -I don't know what is appropriate, I am just asking you. It looks like a gray area and you ought to be able to clear that up with wording and work that out with the other side's attorney.
Yes, absolutely, but,I think that is something that will be a good result from this meeting. If we have a suggestion on what we would like that to apply to- that is where I can go back and say, "O.K. this is ambiguous, we need to be specific and here is what we would propose." But, I think that is yours, in terms of-when you get down to the finances and the incentives and so on and so forth, I obviously want to make sure that we are in compliance with all statutory requirements,but, as far as the dollars, I mean, that is your call.
That is why I am bringing it up. Somebody needs to say what you want that $10,000 to cover. Morgan:
Mr. Weiss, David Gardner may want to comment on this, but I thought and what I heard when they were here before was is that they intended- they said, "Look, we are coming here with a major investment. We are asking that these permitting fees be capped at $10,000. That was my understanding. I don't know what is complicated about that. That would include everything.
Well, I think what Commissioner Croley is
That was my perception, but, I could be wrong. I don't know. But, I think from their side of the table, that is what they are saying. David may have some insight on that. That was a while back.
Well, I am certain that if you asked them,they would say, "Yes, we would expect that we would not have to pay fees that in excess of $10,000. Period.
Yeah. But, I think when they were here, that is what they were expressing to us. I think that is how they are reading at that point. I am not arguing with Commissioner Croley,I am saying if there is something in addition that needs to be there, yeah, we need to put it there because from their prospective, they
are talking about everything. I assume that would be everything. Is that right, David? Am I incorrect on
Just a minute,Commissioner, I want to acknowledge you, but Commissioner Morgan still has the floor. You can call him up if you chose.
That is my understanding, but, I think the attorney needs to have that conversation with them to find out with clarity.
No, this is our time for putting an agreement together to send to them based on what we think it should say. If the board votes for it to stay the same, it is o.k. But,if we put forth more language because right now it is the direction that we want to give them in order to move forward based on what is already here. So...
I would like a few minutes to look through my notes just to see if I've got something there.
Sure. Absolutely. You are welcome to come back. Sure. Madam Commissioner?
Madam Chairman,thank you. I was going to say, "Turn the air down and I can get started." (laughter) I
am about to freeze, and I know it is warm over there.
She said, "Turn it down."
Just stop it from blowing on me, O.K?
On that section, I pointed an arrow towards "administratively," and that is one that you brought up. kind of looked at that one, too. What can it be that causes it to
They are not listening to you, hang on.
We tried to keep that air off of you.
Well, just put a thing on the bottom and be through with it or just turn that one off.
There is a little lever that adjusts it.
Yes, but it turned all the way down.
Well, turn it up and away from her.
Alright, we will work on it.
Anyway,let's get back to the agenda and let them fix that. You might not believe it, but I have an EPA certification in air conditioning and refrigeration. I didn't say I could fix anything,I'm just saying that I can take tests.
O.K. the administrative part. I looked in that section -4.2 and I drew an arrow to it because I wanted to know how much could be done administratively. I think it would help us to know what fees have been charged by other companies that have done that. We don't know. We don't know what permitting fees have been. I put down here for those other locations- are there preliminary sites that Mr. Vanlandingham was talking about. What preliminary sites are they talking about? We haven't seen